MADRID – Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said his country’s support for fellow European Union member Greece hasn’t been lessened after Spain agreed to sell weapons to Turkey that could be used against Greece in a conflict.
Albares made that reassurance to Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in a phone call, said Kathimerini, after Greek officials were said to be perplexed and perturbed over the arms deal.
Greek diplomatic sources said Albares told Dendias that he had recently expressed his support for Greece and Cyprus in the Spanish Parliament, trying to downplay the selling of weapons to Turkey, which upped provocations and belligerence against Greece.
The call came after Greece’s unhappiness about recent talks between Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a possible defense cooperation.
That came after Turkey was upset that Greece made deals to buy French Rafale fighter jets and warships and a mutual defense agreement in which France and Greece are supposed to come to each other’s aid.
Erdogan said Turkey would go ahead with plans to hunt for energy around Greek islands, including Rhodes, and is continuing to drill in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft European Union sanctions.
The move by Spain was seen as a crack in the EU and rattled Greek officials, the paper said, especially coming after the United States barred Turkey from buying F-35 fighter jets because Erdogan authorized the purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.
That undermined NATO, the defense alliance to which Greece, Turkey and the US belong, but which has said nothing about Turkish aggression, afraid to confront the volatile Erdogan.
Greek officials were said to believe that Sanchez had to deal with Turkey because of the big exposure of Spanish banks to Turkey’s faltering economy, with money trumping the EU alliance with Greece.
The pro-Turkish agenda in terms of arms sales by the Sanchez government was reportedly raised last May by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis when Sanchez came to Athens but it didn’t stop Spain from siding with Turkey against Greece.
Apparently emboldened, Turkey then set more fighter jets into Greek airspace in the Aegean with what the paper said was a barrage of overflights that saw Greek fighters engage them in mock dogfights.