The Spanish and Turkish governments have agreed to cooperate in the construction of a second aircraft carrier and a new series of submarines for the Turkish Navy, a sign of harmony between the two countries, especially in defense matters. This was announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the 7th Spanish-Turkish High Level Meeting (RAN) held in Ankara.
Turkey has already built an amphibious assault ship designed by the Spanish shipyard Navantia, the Anadolu (Anatolia), which should be operational in the first quarter of 2022. And the contract with the Spanish public shipyard provided for the possibility of building a second ship, but Erdogan made it clear that he wanted it “bigger” than the first. He did not specify the dimensions, but the Anadolu already has the same size as John Charles I, the largest ship in the Spanish Navy, with more than 230 meters in length and 26,000 tons.
Additionally, the Turkish President has expressed his willingness to work with Spain on other military projects, such as a new series of submarines based on the S-80 that Navantia is building for the Spanish Navy. Germany has sold six Reis-class submersibles to Turkey, for around 4 billion euros, but the project with Spain would be medium-term and, as in the case of aircraft carriers, it is supposed to include a transfer of technology. The joint declaration published at the end of the summit also mentions the desire to “undertake joint projects for unmanned air, land and naval systems”, as well as in the satellite and space fields.
The Congressional Defense Committee on Wednesday approved a resolution in which it calls for the application of the arms export verification protocol to Turkey, Egypt and Iraq due to the risk of diversion to the Libyan conflict, currently in the process of pacification.
Turkey initially planned to equip Anadolu with US F-35 fighters, but Washington vetoed the operation after Erdogan bought the S-400 air defense system from Putin, sparking alarm from other NATO allies. Asked if it is true that Turkey will manufacture components of the Russian military system, Erdongan declined to answer, alleging that it is a “private matter” between Moscow and Ankara.
During the joint press conference with President Pedro Sánchez, the Turkish President justified his decision to abandon the Istanbul Convention, the only international legal instrument to combat gender-based violence. After having initially eluded a response, he assured that his country “has already taken the measures” proposed by the agreement to “eliminate this social scourge” and that women “are sacred” and “the notion of family is very sensitive” in Turkey, by what “cannot be stained”. In reality, Erdogan gave in to secure the support of ultra-conservative Muslim sectors that oppose the Istanbul Convention, such as Vox in Spain.
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Spain is one of Turkey’s best partners in Europe. Not only has it maintained a battery of Patriot missiles on its border with Syria since 2015, as a sign of allied solidarity, but it also supports its entry into the EU, an unattainable goal given the frontal opposition of partners like France. . Until then, he supports Ankara’s goal of joining the customs union and achieving visa liberalization for its citizens.
Sánchez began his program in Ankara with a visit to the mausoleum of Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey, accompanied by his wife, Begoña Gómez. He then went to Erdogan’s Palace, a 200,000 square meter compound (40,000 of which are built) in the center of the Turkish capital, the cost of which is estimated at 275 million euros, where he was honored by the Presidential Honor Guard. The resort opened in 2014, when Erdogan rose from prime minister to president. In total, he has been in power for 18 years, although he drifted into increasingly authoritarian positions after the frustrated 2016 coup.
Spain and Turkey have described their relationship as a “comprehensive partnership” and agreed to create a permanent mechanism to monitor it within the respective foreign ministries. Erdogan thanked the “sign of confidence” in his country’s economy that BBVA’s decision to launch a takeover bid for 50% of its Turkish subsidiary has brought about, and the two governments have set themselves the goal of reach 20,000 million euros per year in trade (13,000 million in 2019).
The second and third vice-presidents of the government, Yolanda Díaz and Teresa Ribera, and the ministers of foreign affairs, José Manuel Albares, participated in the summit; Defense, Margarita Robles; Interior, Fernando-Grande Marlaska; and Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, who have signed half a dozen agreements of intent with their Turkish counterparts.