Turkish aircraft and helicopters illegally entered Greece’s airspace 141 times on May 15, the Hellenic National Defence General Staff reported. Airspace violations are a common practice by Ankara to reiterates its unfounded claims in the Aegean Sea.
20 Turkish F-16, 5 CN-235 maritime surveillance aircraft and 19 helicopters entered the Athens flight information region (FIR) without submitting a flight plan.
The Turkish aircraft were identified and intercepted by Greek fighters, while in nine cases the interception process resulted in near combat situations (dog fights).
In addition, two Turkish missile boats entered Greek territorial waters off the southeast Aegean island of Agathonisi.
The vessels, which were taking part in a maritime exercise code-named Deniz Kurdu (Seawolf), stayed in Greek territorial waters for about 20 minutes.
Contacted by EURACTIV.com, an EU spokesperson sent a strict message to Turkey, urging that it respect the sovereignty of the EU’s member states.
“The EU underlines that Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and urges Turkey to avoid any kind of source of friction, threat or action directed against a member state, which damages good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” the spokesperson said.
The same official added that negative statements that damage good neighbourly relations should also be avoided.
“Moreover, the EU also stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of member states over their territorial sea and airspace,” the spokesperson told EURACTIV.
“At the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) of last 28 April, the EU High-Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini recalled that good neighbourly relations are one of the core principles which Turkey is called upon to respect as a candidate country,” the EU official concluded.
Will now Turkey stop Greece’s airspace violations? On the contrary. Greeks expect ‘intensive activity’ due to the Turkish naval exercise Seawolf.
On May 16, a pair of Turkish F-16 and of F-4E as well as one CN-235 violated the Greek airspace three times.