“Modernizing Turkish weapons with the help of the United States is a problem,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Thursday in Parliament during discussions on the Greek-US Mutual Defense Agreement, which is due to be ratified today.
As we reported earlier, the Biden administration is asking Congress to approve the modernization of the Turkish F-16 fleet. Thus, the United States will not only earn on the supply of weapons, but also hope to improve relations with Turkey, which have been badly damaged in recent years.
According to Dendias, who quotes CNN“The information we have is that the advance notice was sent not for new aircraft, but for radars and missiles.”
The Wall Street Journal announced on Wednesday the upgrade of the Turkish Air Force’s existing Amraam and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, as well as a $400 million radar, an arsenal needed to support Turkey’s existing fleet of F-16s.
The WSJ revelations came just days before Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis left for Washington to meet with President Joe Biden and thus stirred up the Greek opposition.
The left-wing SYRIZA, in a statement, accused Prime Minister Mitsotakis of “pursuing a policy directed against the interests of the Greek people – the most dangerous foreign policy since 1974, at the most critical moment for events in our region as a whole.”
Criticism also came from the socialist PASOK-KINAL, when a veteran MP said that such a development would determine his position in today’s vote.
Dendias stressed that “the modernization of the Turkish arsenal is a problem,” since Ankara has threatened war against Greece and violates the sovereignty of the country.
“The government’s position is clear: no, since we say no to German submarines in Turkey, we will express this opinion with the support of all parties,” he said, adding that Parliament rejected the agreement proposed by the government.
Referring to the Turkish overflights, the Greek Foreign Minister said they were unacceptable, as were the airspace violations, as they were a challenge to national sovereignty and an attempt to impose the recent Turkish campaign to demilitarize the islands, which the State Department condemned.
Turkey a year ago applied to the United States with a request to purchase 40 F-16 aircraft for the modernization of the Air Force. Then Greece managed to block the deal. Nevertheless, the Greek leadership fears that the United States will still meet Turkey halfway for the sake of geopolitical interests, despite the defense agreement, which is due to be ratified in the Greek Parliament today.
As one of the options for maintaining the status quo, Greece is considering the proposal of the White House to host another US Air Force Base on the island of Crete, near Souda Bay, where one of the largest NATO naval bases in the Mediterranean is located.