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Greece concerned as Turkey seeks defense ties with Spain

Greece on Tuesday said it is concerned following statements by Turkey on its will to boost military cooperation with Spain. The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias made the comme… …

Greece concerned as Turkey seeks defense ties with Spain
15.12.2021
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Greece on Tuesday said it is concerned following statements by Turkey on its will to boost military cooperation with Spain.

The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias made the comments following talks with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares in the capital Athens.

Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country hopes to increase defense cooperation with Spain – also a NATO member – through the purchase of a second aircraft carrier and possibly a submarine.

Erdoğan during a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Turkey and Spain had already cooperated on the construction of a Spanish assault ship.

“The first aircraft carrier was not a large-scale one. We have agreed on the construction of a large scale,” he said.

“There is so much we can do in the defense industry, including (concerning) armed and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles,” the president added without elaborating.

“I expressed concern over Spain’s possible intention to strengthen its military cooperation with Turkey,” Dendias said Tuesday. He said European Union members have agreed not to export military technology that could be used “for aggressive acts or regional destabilization.”

Dendias added that Albares offered “a clear position” that Spain will act within the framework of decisions by the EU, to which both Greece and Spain belong.

Greece itself has embarked on a project to modernize its air force and navy, with major purchases from France, citing concerns over Turkish activities.

Greece has often been embroiled in tensions with neighboring Turkey over a range of issues, from competing claims over hydrocarbon resources in the Aegean Sea to the demilitarization of islands. Moreover, Greece’s burgeoning arms program is designed to counter the protection of Turkish interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Turkey is a destabilizing factor in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Dendias said.

Greece and Turkey resumed high-level diplomatic talks in January for the first time in nearly five years to try and ease tension over long-standing boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. But they remain sharply at odds, and Greece has launched a multibillion-dollar military modernization program with large naval and air force orders from France and the United States.

The Greek parliament in October ratified a defense deal struck with France for the purchase of three French-made Belharra frigates, an agreement criticized by Turkey.

In September, Greece also announced that it was planning to buy another six Rafale fighter aircraft as tensions continue to flare with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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