ATHENS – As Spain – which blocked Greece’s call for European Union sanctions – agreed to sell weapons to Turkey, more Turkish fighter jets violated Greek airspace and further split the bloc, raising anxiety in Athens.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez went to Ankara to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and seal a deal for weapons that could be used against Greece in a conflict.
That came after Greece made a deal with France to buy fighter jets and warships to deal with Turkish threats in the Aegean and East Mediterranean where Turkey plans to hunt for energy around Greek islands.
But the move by Spain, a fellow EU member, to side with Turkey rattled Greece, said Kathimerini, especially as the United States barred Turkey from acquiring F-35 fighter jets after Erdogan authorized purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems undermining NATO and threatening Greece.
Greek officials were said to believe that Sanchez had to deal with Turkey because of the big exposure of Spanish banks to Turkey’s faltering economy, with money trumping the EU alliance with Greece.
The pro-Turkish agenda in terms of arms sales by the Sanchez government was reportedly raised last May by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis when Sanchez came to Athens but it didn’t stop Spain from siding with Turkey against Greece.
Apparently emboldened, Turkey then set more fighter jets into Greek airspace in the Aegean with what the paper said was a barrage of overflights that saw Greek fighters engage them in mock dogfights.
According to Greek military reports, three mock dogfights took place and a total of 57 airspace violations, four of which were overflights of Turkish F-16s above the islets of Agathonisi, Makronisi and Anthropofagoi.
That was also attributed to multiple exercises taking place in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean between the Hellenic Armed Forces with those of the US, Egypt, France, Italy and others.
It also followed a meeting by Greek, French, Egyptian and Cypriot foreign chiefs in Athens that was said to have irked Erdogan, who’s also upset about US Armed Forces growing in presence in Alexandropouli, which connects Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean with Eastern Europe and the Black Sea.