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Greece Slams Spain Over Military Sales to Turkey

Sanchez Erdogan Meeting
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Ankara on November 17, 2021. Credit: Turkish Presidency

Greece expressed its irritation on Thursday at Spain’s recent agreement with Turkey, which includes a series of military sales to Ankara.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain held a joint press conference following their bilateral meeting and the 7th Turkey-Spain Intergovernmental Summit at the Presidential Complex in Ankara.

During a press conference, Erdogan stated, “We have set a goal of $20 billion and I believe my dear friend and I will achieve it. We will hold the second meeting of the Turkey-Spain Joint Economy and Trade Committee in the second quarter of 2022; and subsequently the Business Forum in June with a wide participation.”

Prime Minister Sanchez posted in his official Twitter account, “We started the Hispano-Turkish Summit in Ankara, an example of the close relationship that unites our countries. Further strengthening economic cooperation, promoting renewable energies or reinforcing action in emergencies are some of the issues that I will address today together with @RTErdogan.”

Military sales to Turkey could include aircraft carrier, submarine

However, Erdogan emphasized Turkey’s interest in military collaboration, saying “We are carrying out numerous projects with Spain, especially in defense industry. Given the potential of our countries, we desire to further deepen our cooperation in this field.”

Specifically, the two nations are discussing Spain’s sale of an aircraft carrier and a submarine to Turkey, which the EU condemns. The past year has seen a series of European Union summit meetings to discuss Europe’s response to Turkey’s consistent aggression against Greece and its continuous violations of international law.

Greek government spokesman Yannis Economou did not hold back on expressing Greece’s dissatisfaction toward the agreement and specifically, toward Greece’s EU ally, Spain, saying “We were apprised of the remarks [of Sanchez and Erdogan] and we shall be monitoring developments… It is self-evident that [EU] member-states are bound by the decisions of the European Council as regards Turkey’s delinquent behavior and violations of international law.”

Less than one month ago, Turkey was admonished by Europe for expelling ambassadors, while the Turkish government continues to stifle free speech domestically. In the US, more and more members of Congress oppose the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

Nevertheless, the Spanish government proceeded with strategic talks with Turkey at the bilateral meeting that took place on November 17, 2021.

Greece strengthens ties in Europe

The possibility of Spanish military sales to Turkey is opposed by Greece as it seeks to fortify its own European defense deals; most recently, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias co-signed a bilateral cooperation agreement with the UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

As it relates to the UK specifically, the Greek government is addressing a number of issues, including the return of the Parthenon Marbles, but keeps the issue of Turkey’s aggression at the forefront.

During his meeting with Boris Johnson earlier this week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed the destabilizing role that Turkey plays in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, stating that it did not leave room for optimism for dialogue. Mitsotakis underlined that Greece is always willing to discuss issues with Turkey, provided that there is respect for international law.

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