ATHENS – Apparently trying to find some way to smooth over Spain selling weapons to Turkey that could be used against Greece, the Spanish and Greek foreign ministries said they’ll set up a communication line to sort out misunderstandings.
It wasn’t said if that would be a telephone or some other method for them to discuss how to handle the spat that saw Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez go to Ankara to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
That set off shots from Greek officials about a fellow European Union alleged ally selling arms to Turkey which has warned that any attempt by Greece to extend its territoral waters would be a cause for war.
The two countries had come close to a conflict a number of times over Turkey sending warships and an energy research vessel off Greek islands to begin a hunt for oil and gas before the waters calmed down.
Turkey has also regularly sent fighter jets into Greek airspace, drawing mock dogfights with Greek fighter pilots and after the EU – pressured by Spain and Germany – backed off Greece’s demand for sanctions, Turkey has grown bolder.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Athens met Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manual Albares – who requested the sitdown – so that he could explain why Spain selling arms to Turkey wasn’t a reason for trouble with Greece.
Sanchez also was said to want to protect the investments of Spanish businesses in Turkey, setting aside the alliance with Greece in favor of trade, as had Germany, home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and also an arms supplier to Turkey.
Albares said that “Greece can be sure that Spain will always work within the framework of European laws and decisions,” which Turkey has regularly violated without any complaints from the Spanish.
He also said his country is “clearly in favor of a constructive dialogue between Greece and Turkey, based on European and international law,” without mention Turkey doesn’t recognize some laws.
Albares stressed that “Greece knows that it can rely on Spain as a friend and ally and partner country,” but didn’t say if that would hold in case of a conflict or if pressured hard by Turkey.
The Spanish deal came after Greece moved to buy Rafale fighter jets from France and signed a mutual defense agreement without mentioning it was because of Turkey and as analysts said that it was.