Turkey will build a second and larger aircraft carrier in Spain

Turkey

The Turkish foreign minister met with his Spanish counterpart. He said that Turkey's European Union ambitions will not become a pawn in the evil political agenda of some EU countries.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with his Spanish counterpart José Manuel Albares in Ankara.

In a joint interview given by the two ministers after their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan mentioned that Spain was among the countries that sincerely supported the process of Turkey's accession to the European Union from the beginning and expressed once again that the EU membership is still a strategic goal for Turkey.

"I reiterated that Turkey's EU accession process is too important to give way to the evil political agenda of some countries," he said.

Hakan Fidan pointed out that the European Union, as a collective political entity of European countries, expresses its own positions; however, Turkey develops relations separately, one by one, with European countries and maintains a different institutional relationship with the European Union.

"The relations that Turkey develops directly with many European countries can be easier," the Turkish minister said, while on the contrary, when developing relations with the EU, there are decisions that must be made unanimously within the Union.

He argued that this situation can often work against Ankara.

FIdan also recalled that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated after his re-election in 2023 that Ankara's perspective on EU membership has stayed the same and that Turkey's strategic intentions and vision remain the same.

The Turkish minister reminded that there is an open EU accession process and stressed that political will must be demonstrated before that. As he said, the key countries of the EU are those from which Turkey expects a declaration of will on this matter.

He noted that these countries should make such a declaration.

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Recalling that such a political will was formulated in 2004-2005, Hakan Fidan added: "Later we saw that this political will eroded and gradually disappeared and that a completely different political perception and climate towards Turkey prevails in the European Union."

Hakan Fidan listed the areas that need to be improved in favour of both sides in Turkey's relations with the EU, including the updating of the Customs Union, the relaxation of the visa regime for Turkish citizens travelling to the EU, trade privileges, and the issue of tackling illegal immigration.

The Spanish minister replied that his country favoured developing and strengthening Brussels' dialogue with Turkey and pointed out that EU countries should work on this issue. He emphasised that Spain did not want to stop this dynamic and asked Turkey to continue to consider its "future in Europe."

Cooperation on aircraft carriers

Hakan Fidan also mentioned that Spain is one of Turkey's biggest trading partners in the EU and that the target for annual trade volume with Spain is €20 billion. It seems that this target was almost reached last year, as it exceeded €19 billion.

More than 700 companies based in Spain have a presence in Turkey.

The Turkish minister emphasised that "we want to promote our cooperation in the defence industry with specific projects."

"Spain cooperates in this field with Turkey and has contributed to the construction of the Turkish mini-aircraft carrier/amphibious operations ship 'Anadolu,' while President Erdogan has announced that his country intends to build a larger aircraft carrier and, for this purpose, is in negotiations with Spain," Fidan said. "Spain has deployed Patriot arrays (including the anti-aircraft system) in Adana since 2015."

Regarding the war in Gaza, Hakan Fidan stated that Turkey continues to press in all fora, unilaterally or collectively, for measures that can be taken to put pressure on Israel. He also said that he supports Spain in the initiatives it has undertaken in this matter.

Fidan noted that the organisation of a peace conference, the recognition of the Palestinian state and the implementation of security guarantees are very important alternative proposals in the direction of the solution, stressing that Turkey has also submitted proposals.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs responded that Madrid proposes to organise a peace conference on the Palestinian issue.

"At the peace conference, we can all come together, recognise the Palestinian state, and Israel gives us the security guarantee," he said.

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Albares recalled that Spain "condemned the attacks" of Hamas and emphasised that many Palestinians have lost their lives due to bombs and hunger."

"We don't want to witness this level of violence," he noted, adding that the "diffusion of the conflict in Lebanon" also worries his country.

Finally, Hakan Fidan noted that Turkey and Spain are two important countries in the Mediterranean basin, adding that the region faces challenges such as conflicts, terrorism, climate change, and irregular migration.

"Turkey and Spain, located at the eastern and western ends of the Mediterranean, are experiencing these crises first-hand. As two countries that have been fighting terrorism for years, we attach great importance to improving our security cooperation," he said.

Fidan also assessed that Turkey and Spain's potential for cooperation, especially for regional and global security, has not been fully discussed and stated that this discussion should begin.

He pointed out that recent events in the region have brought to the fore the security perspective of the relations between Turkey, the EU, and NATO, noting that very serious issues need to be discussed between Turkey and the European Union, both at the bilateral level and in the context of NATO.

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