Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez can try to spin his country’s agreement to sell weapons to Turkey and a possible defense agreement any way he wants, but it’s still a betrayal of the European Union and Greece.
İt also gave Turkish Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan another win over the EU which is scared senseless to take him on, fearful he will make good on threats to unleash millions more refugees on the bloc, through Greece and its islands.
Like EU leaders before him, who went to Ankara to be humiliated, Sanchez crawled there in a feeble play to protect Spanish banks and business exposure there as the Turkish lira falls and economy weakens.
No permanent friends, only permanent interests, but Spanish arms could be used against Greece in a conflict and further undermines NATO – the defenseless defense alliance to which all three belong.
NATO has about as much value in the world as the Useless Nations because Erdogan holds the cards and plays them, and so dependent on Turkey is the alliance that he even made it blink in buying S-400 missile defense systems that are made in Russia – an ideological enemy of NATO.
There shouldn’t have been any surprise in Greece about the treachery because Spain, along with Germany – home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and also an arms supplier for Erdogan – blocked Greece’s call for EU sanctions against Turkey’s plans to drill for oil and gas around Greek islands.
Using Sanchez as a prop, Erdogan reminded that the two countries cooperated to build the amphibious assault ship of the Turkish Navy Anadolu, which can be configured as a light aircraft carrier – and said he wants a bigger one.
“Our goal is to build a large aircraft carrier. Maybe we will make efforts in the submarines field too. We will take these steps. There are many things we can do together in the defense industry,” Erdoğan said, reported EURACTIV.
He told the site that Spain’s stance toward Turkey should be a ‘role model’ for other EU nations, and was giddy about the investments of more than 600 Spanish companies, another reason why Sanchez shined Erdogan’s shoe – with his tongue.
“The presence of Spanish bank BBWA is the most concrete sign of confidence in Turkey,” he said, but it wasn’t, because the real sign was Sanchez.
Ioannis Michaletos, an associate of the Institute for Defense & Security Analysis (I.S.D.A) in Athens, told The National Herald that Spain’s defense industry has a long term collaboration with Turkish firms going back to the 1980’s and that Spanish banks are highly leveraged in the Turkish market.
Sanchez was there too to protect clothing retailer Zara, which Michaletos said has big investment and supply chain interests in Turkey, so maybe the Spanish leader should have gone to one of its stores there and picked out a belt for Erdogan to beat him with.
“Spain is a competitor in North Africa-Mediterranean and Latin America with France … it is logical to assume that Spain wants to leverage its role vis-a-vis Paris by siding with Turkey,” said Michaletos.
Greece earlier made a 2.3 billion euro ($2.6 billion) deal with France to buy 12 used and six new Rafale fighter jets and another for $3.5 billion to acquire three French frigate warships, aimed against Turkish aggression.
That peeved Erdogan, but what really got him cranked beyond his usual craze-o-meter is that France and Greece agreed – on paper – to mutual defense, but if a conflict breaks out with Turkey, look for the French to look the other way.
There are the usual backstories here that didn’t play out in the press and Michaletos, one of the best defense and security analysts in the EU, knows them as well as the French know how to throw up their arms.
“Spain has a long-standing competition with Morocco, which in turn is competed by Algeria, [which] is anti-French and pro-Turkish; so this is another point that brings Madrid and Ankara together,” he said.
“The Catalonia and Basque autonomous issues in Spain are also seen as analogous to the Kurdish autonomous issue in Turkey … both countries share similarities in that respect,” he said.
There was nary a word from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had met with Sanchez earlier this year in Athens, but left it to anonymous ministers to complain in the media about the Turkish-Spanish deal.
“Spain, in its ‘European Union’ policy often sides with Germany and The Netherlands at the expense of France and since Germany-Netherlands also have big interests in Turkey, that also further plays a role in the whole equation,” said Michaletos.
After Greek officials – without being named so as not to embarrass Sanchez – indicated displeasure, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares made a feeble attempt to explain that selling weapons to Turkey didn’t sell out Greece.
Turkey – backed by Greece – has fruitlessly been trying to join the EU since 2005, prospects worsening under Erdogan’s autocratic rule, stepped up since a failed 2016 coup attempt against him, and he’s jailing journalists by the dozens.
The irony is Erdogan doesn’t need Spanish arms, German submarine components, or Russian missile defense systems to beat the EU and Greece because he has the ultimate weapon: that cold, hard stare. Everyone hide!