Ankara says Spain is true friend as it keeps Patriots in Turkey

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Saturday said Spain was a true friend because it did not withdraw its air-defence systems unlike many European countries, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

"Spain is a true friend of Turkey. We thank [Spain] for this," Anadolu quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying.

Spain has Patriot batteries in Turkey that have been stationed in İncirlik airbase in the southern province of Adana since 2015. The possibility of Spain to withdraw its air-defence systems in İncirlik was mentioned in the media following Turkey's offensive in northeast Syria, but was denied by the Spanish Embassy in Ankara. 

Italy had also placed the SAMP/T battery in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Kahramanmaraş in 2016 after Germany decided to withdraw its Patriot systems from Turkey, ending its role in a three-year NATO mission to help bolster the country's air defences against threats from Syria's civil war. 

And, Italy decided to remove its batteries it stationed in Turkey as part of a NATO commitment to defend the country, but denied that the decision was not a reaction to Turkey’s military operation in Syria.

"Our relations have grown stronger in every field," Anadolu quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying, adding that economic relations between two countries have been strengthening daily.