Greece intensified pressure on Germany to halt the sale of submarines to Turkey to maintain the balance of power in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.
“This is for us a source of concern,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in Athens prior to a meeting with Nils Schmid, parliamentary group spokesperson for foreign affairs of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greek Reporter news website reported on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos also called on German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to halt the sale of the six submarines, Greek Reporter said.
Turkey is seeking to complete a series of defence procurements from Germany, which also include parts for its domestic-built tank programme.
Greek officials say Turkey’s acquisition of the difficult-to-detect German-made Type 214 submarines would see their country lose a key military advantage in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.
Disputes between Greece and Turkey over maritime borders in the Mediterranean have been exacerbated by the discovery of hydrocarbons off the Turkish coast adjacent to Greek islands and Cyprus.
In December, the European Union approved sanctions against Turkish officials involved in gas exploration after the country deployed seismic exploration ships into waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece. Germany has rejected Greek, Cypriot and French calls for an arms embargo on Turkey.
“I cannot but express our profound disappointment over the SPD’s role on the motions of an arms embargo to Turkey,” Dendias said after the meeting with Schmid, the Greek Reporter said. “Both Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and I have numerous times spoken to almost everyone in Germany about the necessity to keep the balance in the Aegean.”
The SPD has voted against a bill calling for a ban on the export of submarines to Turkey, the news website said.
German Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer rejected a Greek demand to suspend the purchase agreement for the submarines.
“The program to build and sell in Turkey the six type-214 submarines cannot be stopped – or even delayed – because the construction company Thyssen is bound by contracts signed since 2002,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told Panagiotopoulos, the Greek Reporter said.
“I do not find the demand of an arms embargo against Turkey strategically correct. It is not easy to do this against a NATO partner. We saw that NATO ally Turkey easily bought missiles from Russia because it could not buy from the U.S.,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur last month, according to the Greek Reporter.