Ankara pushes narrative with overflights
A pair of Turkish jets flew over the central Aegean islets of Kalogeroi on Tuesday, serving as a reminder to Athens of Ankara’s penchant for air space violations, but also of its wider narrative regarding spheres of influence.
The Kalogeroi islets are located in the center of the Aegean, approximately halfway between Andros and Chios, and very far from the eastern part of the archipelago where violations are usually recorded.
Although it has not been ruled out whether the specific overflights by the two Turkish F-16s above the islets could be linked to Greece’s firm position regarding the imposition of European sanctions on Turkey due to its activities in the Cypriot town of Varosha, Athens also sees the incursion as a change in the operational behavior of the Turkish Air Force.
More specifically, these overfights, as well as recent drone flights in the central Aegean, are seen to reflect Ankara’s view that there should be a midline in the Aegean based on equal distance from the coasts of mainland Greece and Turkey. Moreover, islets like Kalogeroi do not have the right to any zone, no matter how far away they are.
At the same time, however, the operational depletion of the Turkish Air Force is noteworthy, as it has been observed that only a limited number of aircraft are used during its forays in the Aegean compared to the past.
On Tuesday, a total of seven aircraft took off, six F-16s and one CN-235, carrying out minimal and targeted violations, such as the flights over Kalogeroi.
Despite these sporadic Turkish moves, Athens does not expect Ankara to up the ante much in the Aegean, with estimates suggesting it will turn its attention to Cyprus, where preparations are under way for new drillings in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone.