ATHENS – After pulling back demands for European Union sanctions, Greece now wants bloc members not to sell arms to Turkey while building an arsenal as tensions keep rising between them.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he won't relent in plans to keep hunting for oil and gas off Greek islands under a maritime deal with Libya that no other country recognizes.
A Turkish energy ship and warships are off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, Greece responding by sending parts of its navy to shadow them, raising fears of a conflict, accidental or otherwise.
Despite the dilemma, other EU countries want to sell arms to Turkey while the bloc could wind up imposing sanctions that apparently would exclude the lucrative arms deal, making the penalties almost pointless.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis insisted on the arms embargo although he had pulled back his insistence on sanctions to give diplomacy a chance, Erdogan seizing the moment to send his ships back near Greek waters he said are Turkish.
Mitsotakis made the embargo push to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas but Germany, home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage, rejected sanctions against Turkey.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has made a similar plea to Germany, Italy and Spain, said Kathimerini, but there was no word on whether there was a response as Greece is planning to buy French frigates and fighter jets.
While backing Greece in statements and tweets, other EU countries continue to reap the rewards of selling arms to Turkey along with technical assistance that could be used against Greece and NATO, to which both belong.
EU arms and technical assistance has helped Turkey expand its domestic defense industry, including developing drones, the paper said.
Mitsotakis noted that Germany is providing assistance to Turkey on how to use the German-designed Type 214 submarine and for the anaerobic propulsion (AIP) systems that could be used against Greece.
Germany is also providing Turkey with know-how for the Leopard tank 2A4, the paper said, as well as in the production of the Korkut medium-range anti-aircraft system (Rheinmetall type), as well as PorSav missiles.
Germany is also helping arm Turkey to the teeth with engines for the Turkish Navy’s national corvette vessel, the national frigate (MilGem) and, together with France and Spain, has also provided know-how for the A-400 transport aircraft. The MEKO frigates are also a German-type ship that has been developed for the Turkish navy.
Italy is cashing in too with delivering its T-129 ATAK attack helicopters and Gokturk spy satellites while Spain provided technical assistance for the Anadolu helicopter, and sold Turkey the CN-235 Naval Cooperation Aircraft, which together with the Italian-made ATR-72 allow the Turkish Air Force to monitor the Aegean and East Med, the paper said.