Ba??? criticizes Germany, France over military sales to Greece
Turkey"s chief negotiator for European Union talks, Egemen Ba???, has criticized Germany and France for seeking to sell military equipment to Greece while pressing the government in Athens to make drastic public spending cuts as a result of its dire financial crisis.
Ba???, speaking in an interview with The New York Times in Brussels last week, said that to help Greece escape its ?economic disaster? and reduce regional tensions, Ankara would reciprocate if the Greeks froze or cut defense procurement. ?One of the reasons for the economic crisis in Greece is because of their attempt to compete with Turkey in terms of defense expenditures,? Ba??? said.
?Even those countries that are trying to help Greece at this time of difficulty are offering to sell them new military equipment,? he added. ?Greece doesn"t need new tanks or missiles or submarines or fighter planes, neither does Turkey. It"s time to cut military expenditure throughout the world, but especially between Turkey and Greece. Neither Greece nor Turkey needs neither German nor French submarines,? Ba??? said in the interview, published on Monday.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel played a central role in a European Union summit meeting that put in place a financial safety net for Athens, but only reluctantly and after insisting on a tough austerity package in Greece.
On Turkey"s bid to become a member of the European Union, an idea which Merkel opposes, Ba??? said Turkey wanted to start talks in four more policy areas, or chapters, this year and expressed optimism about progress in talks on the reunification of Cyprus. ?It might not be a comprehensive solution that touches every single issue on the island, but they must have achieved something,? he said. ?The rumors we hear are that they have achieved a lot.?
But he rejected the idea of a gesture from Turkey to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus without a move to end the economic embargo of Turkish Cyprus because there would be strong public opposition to such a unilateral step.