Tension peaks in the Aegean
Greek diplomats on Friday complained to Ankara after two Turkish fighter jets threatened a Greek coast guard helicopter participating in a patrol organised by Frontex, the European Union’s border monitoring agency, in the latest of a string of acts of harassment by Turkey in the Aegean.
According to Greek defence officials, the two Turkish F16s “locked onto” the Greek helicopter and threatened to shoot it down as it flew over Farmakonisi.
The Greek Air Force reacted by dispatching two of its own F16s which issued a similar threat to the Turkish fighter jets, prompting them to withdraw.
Before the incident with the Turkish F16s, the helicopter had received 11 radar warnings from Turkish authorities.
Friday’s incident was the latest in a spate of Turkish transgressions last week, including radar warnings to Greek and international aircraft participating in patrols of the eastern Aegean aimed at curbing an influx of illegal immigrants heading for Western Europe via Greece.
When a foreign ministry spokesman was asked on Thursday about Turkish “activity” in the Aegean Sea, he responded that the issue has been raised with the Turkish foreign ministry.
Speaking at a press briefing, spokesperson Grigoris Delavekouras noted, “(The) activity observed, mainly at sea, is definitely a cause of concern. Relevant statements have been made by the minister of defence and the alternate defence minister.”
“We should look at the essence and overcome appearances ... at a time of efforts for the improvement of relations,” he said in relation to Turkey’s actions.
He also emphasised the fact that the Turkish military activity takes place during a period when talks held within the framework of a steering committee were completed in a good atmosphere, focusing on sectors such as transports, tourism, the economy, energy, environment, agriculture and natural disasters management.
Delavekouras said that “the alternate minister will visit Ankara in this spirit, most likely before the end of March.”
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