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Letter from Athens: Some Ally: Germany Arms Turkey Against Greece

November 15, 2020

The next time Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos ‘True Blue’ Mitsotakis gets the ear of German Chancellor Angela Merkel he might want to yell, not whisper this: “What the hell are you doing selling submarines to Turkey!” 

Their political groups belong to the center-right European People's Party that had propped up quasi-dictators like Hungary's leader Viktor ‘Mini-Trump’ Orban and Bulgaria's Premier Boyko ‘Bouncer’ Borisov, but Merkel is more afraid of Turkish Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

She earlier rejected Mitsotakis' call for the European Union to sanction Turkey for sending an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo and planning to do the same off Crete, where the U.S. Navy has a base on Souda Bay. 

Why? Remember she was slow off the mark to not let a German comic be extradited to Turkey where Erdogan wanted to pillory him for reading a poem the Turkish leader found insulting. 

Why? There are 2.774 million reasons why – that's how many people there are of Turkish heritage in Germany where there's often tension with nationalists and all you need to do is watch Dogs of Berlin on Netflix to see it. 

Then there's the little matter of Erdogan, with Turkey housing 4.4 million refugees and migrants who went there fleeing war, strife and economic misery in their homelands – especially Syria and Afghanistan – threatening to unleash hordes on the EU through Greece and its islands. 

Greece is already housing more than 100,000 of them, including some 34,000 on five islands near the coast of Turkey, which lets human traffickers keep sending more during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU. 

Thousands went to Germany before Merkel and the EU closed the borders to them, dumping the problem on Greece, and every time Erdogan thinks he's going to be squeezed it's he who has Merkel's ear and whispers 4.4 million reasons not to provoke him. 

More people in the EU are afraid of Erodgan than there are in The White House terrified of President ‘Dead Duck’ Psycho, including NATO leader Jens ‘Jello’ Stoltenberg who let Turkey get away with violating Greek airspace and waters until offering a tepid ‘de-confliction’ mechanism that didn't work. 

But politics and jellyfish is one matter and weapons are another, so Germany is no friend of Greece as long as it's arming Turkey to the teeth with submarines and tanks and other equipment that could put Greece at a disadvantage if yelling comes to shooting. 

Despite being outgunned by Turkey, Greece has superior F-16 fighter pilots, Turkey's Air Force decimated by Erdogan after a failed 2016 coup attempt against him. 

But Greece's biggest advantage is a silent running German submarine that Turkey's military couldn't find. 

Not to worry, Turkey – Germany will sell you the same because governments are the biggest arms dealer in the world, not rogues selling AK-47s out of the back of a van or pickup truck. 

The German Super Stealth Type 214 class submarine Greece has and Turkey wants goes for around $400 million each so that's another 400 million reasons – every time – that Merkel will let Erdogan get them no matter what Mitsotakis says. It's profitable arming both sides in a conflict that doesn't involve you. 

Ioannis Michaletos, an associate of the Institute for Defense & Security Analysis and the Mediterranean Center For Strategic Analysis and Intelligence in Athens told The National Herald why Germany arming Turkey is such a threat. 

“The most important aspect is the future provision of six high-tech submarines that will provide serious challenges for the Greek Navy,” he said, taking away Greece's ace in the hole and critical deterrent against a battle. 

“German companies have invested heavily in the Turkish economy to an extent that well-known German brands rely on the Turkish factories for their market shares all across Europe and the Mideast,” he added. 

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias urged Germany to halt the sale of Type 214 class submarines to Turkey, saying that the move would upset the existing power balance and enable Ankara to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean. 

In an article in Die Welt newspaper, Dendias said that the German submarines – the Hellenic Navy currently has four such vessels – “give us a strategic advantage in the Southeast Mediterranean and the Aegean.” 

“If Germany delivers [these vessels] Turkey will again have an advantage against Greece,” he said, adding that Germany’s “policy of appeasement” in dealing with Turkey had failed, Turkish ships still in Greek waters. 

Dendias said German submarines could threaten “EU member-states such as Cyprus and Greece, but also in general threaten stability in the region,” but Merkel has shown no interest in canceling orders. 

After pulling back demands for European Union sanctions to give diplomacy a chance – it failed – Mitsotakis wants EU members not to sell arms to Turkey while Greece builds its arsenal as tensions keep rising. 

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), and also PorSav missiles and engines for the Turkish Navy’s national corvette vessel. 

So there's the bonanza that Germany reaps from selling weapons to Turkey along with all those Turkish-German citizens who vote, and, in the end, for every politician, that's just as important as money. 

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