Spanish foreign minister to visit Athens to offer ‘clarifications’ on Turkey deal

Spain’s foreign minister is expected to pay a visit to Greece in order to clarify details about a recent defence deal concluded with Turkey, Greek daily Kathimerini reported on Saturday. 

On Friday, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias spoke on the phone with his Spanish counterpart José Manuel Albares where they discussed the arms deal with Turkey. Albares offered to provide “clarifications” about the agreement and to visit Athens to do so, an offer Denidias accepted. No date was announced for the visit. 

Albares’ offer follows a visit to Turkey on Wednesday by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez where he met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. During that visit, Erdoğan announced that Turkey had secured a deal with Spain to purchase an aircraft carrier and submarine from Spain, a fellow NATO member state. 

“The first aircraft carrier was not a large-scale one. We have agreed on the construction of a large scale (carrier),” the Turkish president said at a joint press conference with Sanchez. “And perhaps, we will also enter (cooperation) for a submarine. There is so much we can do in the defence industry, including armed and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Greece, also a NATO state and a member of the European Union like Spain, made clear its discomfort with the prospects of a Spanish-Turkish arms deal. 

“It is self-evident that (EU) member-states are bound by the decisions of the European Council as regards Turkey’s delinquent behaviour and violations of international law,” said Greek government spokesperson Yannis Economou on Friday.

Greece and Turkey have been locked in a bitter feud over expansive Turkish claims to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and Erdoğan’s frequent threats to allow Syrian migrants to cross into the E.U. 

Officials on both sides regularly accuse the other of destabilizing the situation that has scrambled the geopolitical picture in the region. Because of the perceived threat from Turkey, Greece secured its own arms deal with France to acquire warships and jet fighters, angering Ankara. 

Athens has bolstered its defence ties with Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates over its concerns about Turkish aggression.

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