‘Greece violated Türkiye’s airspace, waters 1,123 times this year’
Stating that the Greek Armed Forces is constantly trying to increase the tension in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Defense Ministry said they harassed the Turkish jets by locking on for a total of 3.372 seconds in 14 separate incidents since Aug. 15.
Reminding that Greece recently harassed the maritime patrol aircraft operating in the south of Rhodes on Sept. 1, the ministry emphasized that the aircraft was performing a NATO mission and was unarmed.
“The harassment and violations in question were retaliated within the framework of reciprocity,” the ministry cited.
Noting that Greece carried out a total of 1,616 violations and harassment in Turkish airspace and waters last year with military marines and aircraft, the ministry said this figure is 1,123 in the first eight months of this year alone.
The ministry considers Greece’s reasons for these violations “contrary to international law.”
Reiterating that Türkiye always calls for dialogue and good neighborliness, the ministry said, “These aggressive actions of our NATO ally, which are against the spirit of alliance, are never acceptable. Our country, which is not a threat to anyone, is doing its best for peace, tranquility and stability in the world.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 3 warned Greece that it would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to “harass” Turkish planes over the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.
“Hey Greece, take a look at history. If you go any further, you will pay a heavy price,” Erdoğan said at Teknofest in the Black Sea province of Samsun.
Türkiye has complained of provocative actions by Athens in recent months, saying such moves undermine peace efforts.
Türkiye says Greece is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of peace treaties signed after World Wars I and II.
Erdoğan accused Greece of occupying the islands.
“We have only one thing to tell Greece: Do not forget Izmir [Smyrna in Greek],” Erdoğan said, referring to the end of the Greek occupation after Turkish forces entered the city on the Aegean coast in 1922.
“Your occupation of the islands does not bind us,” Erdoğan said.
“When the time comes, we will do what’s necessary. As we say, we may come suddenly one night,” he added.
The ministry said the Greek warplanes scrambled to harass the Turkish F-16s on Aug. 22 and 24 by locking their radars on to them. The incidents took place while the Turkish jets were escorting the American warplanes and other allied airplanes on these dates, according to the ministry.
On Aug. 23, the Crete-based S-300 air defense system of Greece locked on to the Turkish F-16s, the ministry announced, calling the move “hostile” and inconsistent with the spirit of the NATO alliance.
Greece has been deploying the Russian systems in Crete since 1999. The original buyer of these weapons was Greek Cyprus, but it could not deploy them as a result of the harsh reaction from Türkiye in the late 1990s.
Ankara and Athens are at odds over the Aegean and Mediterranean where they are in dispute over overlapping sovereign areas in the air and on the sea. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had initiated a deconfliction mechanism for Türkiye and Greece at NATO, but the latter suspended the meetings.