The Spanish government has accused Turkey of blocking the delivery of vital medical supplies urgently needed to combat the novel coronavirus in Spain, according to Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo.
The medical supplies including ventilators and sanitary equipment was to be shipped to Spain but remained at Turkish customs due to Ankara’s restrictions on the export of medical devices, according to El Pais.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said during a press conference on Friday that Spain had not received the ventilators it had purchased after Turkey “decided to keep them in case they need them in their battle against the coronavirus.”
El Mundo reported that the ventilators were made in Turkey on behalf of a Spanish company with components it had bought from China.
Emiliano Garcia-Page, president of Castilla-La Mancha, one of the regions in Spain that had purchased the ventilators, said Turkey has “unilaterally decided to requisition” the 150 ventilators it had already paid €3m for.
He added he expected the national government to issue a diplomatic complaint about the issue, which he said was “bordering on criminality,” the Independent reported.
While the Turkish government has assured Spanish authorities that the shipment will reach Spain “in a few weeks,” according to González Laya, her government considers the equipment to be “lost.”
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan announced last month that the country was restricting the export of medical equipment such as ventilators, intubation devices and intensive care monitors in order to meet domestic demand due to the COVID-19 epidemic, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 500 people in Turkey.
The Spanish Embassy said it had been trying to reactivate the delivery of ventilators that were bought by the two local communities with critically ill coronavirus patients, according to unnamed sources cited by El Pais.
Talks between Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, and his Turkish counterpart, Fahrettin Koca, apparently saw no break in the impasse, according to El Mundo.
The total number of coronavirus deaths in Spain now stands at 11,744. Confirmed cases had risen to 124,736 as of Saturday.