NATO will submit flight plans before the alliance’s Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles enter the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) for surveillance operations, Kathimerini understands.
Athens had pushed for the decision in extensive behind-the-scenes talks.
Given that NATO ally Turkey had opposed such a development, a so-called “letter of agreement” was finally adopted which will set out the terms and conditions for conducting allied flights in the Greek area of responsibility.
Moreover, in another development last week, a decision was made for a new European aeronautical mission, with a view to implementing the arms embargo on Libya, north of the country’s coast.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias made it clear to all his interlocutors last week at the Council of Foreign Affairs in Brussels and at a meeting with his counterparts at the European People’s Party (EPP) that Athens’ goals are the same as those set by the Berlin conference in January.
Greece’s aim is to see the arrival of EU frigates in the region, which is expected to limit the Turkish presence off the Libyan coast, due to Ankara’s fear of inspections of ships carrying armaments and reinforcements to the country.
Moreover, European naval units will be present south of Crete – in an area defined in the Ankara-Tripoli Memorandum.
Meanwhile, the Hellenic Navy will establish an operations command for the Eastern Mediterranean at Souda Bay on Crete. Its purpose is the gradual permanent deployment of a naval squadron, which will have rapid access to the Eastern Mediterranean, from Crete to Kastellorizo.