Spain accuses Turkey of seizing respirators, equipment during pandemic

The Spanish Foreign Ministry has announced that Turkey seized 150 ventilators and sanitary equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which were destined for Spain, Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Saturday.

The ventilators were manufactured in Turkey on behalf of a Spanish company, with components purchased by the company from China, El Mundo quoted Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya as saying.

Because the ventilators were assembled in Turkey, the Turkish government considered them to fall under the country’s broad restrictions on the export of medical devices, placed due to the coronavirus pandemic, González Laya said.

A number of talks on the issue over the past week between Spanish Minister of Health Salvador Illa and his Turkish counterpart Fahrettin Koca on the matter have yielded no success, El Mundo said, citing Illa.

While the Turkish government has assured Spanish authorities that the shipment will reach Spain “in a few weeks,” according to González Laya, the Spanish government considers the equipment to be lost, El Mundo said.

The local government of Spain’s Castille-La Mancha autonomous community expects the central government to issue a diplomatic complaint on the matter, which is “bordering on criminality,” said Castille-La Mancha’s President Emiliano García-Page.

According to García-Page, the autonomous community has already paid 3 million euros ($ 3.24 million) for the ventilators.

In a move that sparked some criticism from the opposition, Turkey on Wednesday delivered a shipment of personal protective gear and disinfectants to Spain, following Spain's appeal to NATO for support as the country's hospitals were increasingly overwhelmed.