ATHENS -- Greece's critical military edge – nearly undetectable submarines that run silent – would be taken away if Germany sells comparable vessels to Turkey as tensions still run high with fears of a conflict breaking out.
For the third time – also ignored – Greece asked Germany to not to provide Turkey with Type 214 class submarines but Chancellor Angela Merkel – who blocked Greece's initial request for sanctions over Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean has shown no signs of meeting the request.
This time it was Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who asked Germany not to sell the subs and as he showed open signs of irritation, complaining that Merkel has fruitlessly tried to mollify an antagonistic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“If Germany delivers [these vessels], Turkey will again have an advantage against Greece,” he told the German newspaper Die Welt, adding that Germany's “policy of appeasement” in dealing with Turkey had failed.
Turkey has ordered six of the submarines while it still has the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis and warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, shadowed by Greece's Navy in a wary stand-off.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pulled back his demand for European Union sanctions, which instantly failed when Erdogan seized the moment to send in his his ships, the bloc's leaders said they wouldn't consider penalties until year's end.
Pointing to the Turkish ships near or in Greek waters that Turkey claimed under a maritime deal with Libya no other country recognizes, Dendias said,“This is why we proposed to the European Council to make it clear to Turkey that its violations of international law will have consequences.”
But Mitsotakis still hasn't moved to ask the EU to implement the sanctions that Merkel is blocking even as he is trying to build international alliances, drawing in France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.
Dendias added that if Turkey acquires the German submarines – Germany also sells them to Greece – that it would upset the existing power balance and enable Turkey to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean.
He said the four German submarines that Greece has, which the Turkish military reportedly couldn't find in the seas, rattling them, “give us a strategic advantage in the Southeast Mediterranean and the Aegean.”
Germany is home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and Merkel has treaded carefully in dealing with Erdogan, who said he would flood the EU with more refugees and migrants through Greece and its islands if provoked.
Germany is a major arms dealer to Turkey, a lucrative business it has shown no signs of wanting to stop even though German weapons could be used against fellow EU member Greece in a battle with Turkey.
Earlier, Dendias repeated Greece's request for an embargo during a visit to Berlin to talk about the tension over the seas, meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the President of the German Parliament Wolfgang Schäuble, the Chairman of the European Affairs Committee of the Bundestag, Gunther Krichbaum, and other senior officials, said Kathimerini.
Dendias said the German submarines could threaten “EU member-states such as Cyprus and Greece, but also in general threaten stability in the region,” but Germany is still moving to make the sales.
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.
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 a German-type ship that has also been developed for the Turkish navy.