NEWS

Ankara seen to be stoking regional tensions

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Turkey, Cyprus

Athens sees the recent rhetoric emanating from Turkey’s Defense and Foreign ministries, in tandem with a spike in airspace violations and overflights, as part of a calculated bid by Ankara to maintain a climate of tension over the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. 

According to analysts, the tension serves a two-fold objective: to highlight Turkish claims in the region and to serve as a reminder that despite its military operations in Syria, Ankara is ready to uphold its interests on its western sea border. 

To this end, Turkey issued a navigational telex (NAVTEX) on Thursday, reserving an area in the Eastern Mediterranean until Saturday for seismic research by the survey ship Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and two support vessels.

The area overlaps with a large part of the Greek continental shelf and a section of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

Earlier on Thursday, a pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets flew over some of Greece’s easternmost islands at an altitude of over 28,000 feet. 

According to the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, the two Turkish fighter jets flew over the islets of Farmakonisi and Panagia at 12.44 and 12.56 p.m. respectively, without submitting a flight plan to the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR). 

Meanwhile, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said that the criticism he received from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier this week shows he is doing his job well, adding that “nobody is afraid” of Turkey. 

“Mr Cavusoglu, thank you for your provocative New Year’s statements. It is my gift for doing my job well. Greece will continue this work, seeking peace, defending its sovereignty and building strong alliances. Nobody is afraid of you anymore,” he said on his personal Twitter account on Thursday. 

Cavusoglu reportedly described Kammenos as a “spoiled brat” over past comments on bilateral territorial disputes and airspace violations in the Aegean. 

“We have a warning for Greece. You have a spoiled brat you call your defense minister. Beware of your spoiled brat so that our armed forces do not get involved in possible accidents,” he was quoted as saying by the Turkish Minute news website, during a speech at the Turkish Gendarmerie and Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday.

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