Turkish fighter jets conducted a barrage of overflights above Aegean islands including Kastellorizo on Monday as the fifth session of the Greek-Turkish Joint Economic Committee (JEC) was being conducted in Athens under Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Frangogiannis and Turkish Deputy Minister of Trade Mustafa Tuzcu.
More specifically, while the meeting was in progress Turkish F-16s flew first above Panagia at 12.41 p.m. and then at 1.34 p.m. and 1.38 p.m. over the islands of the Megisti complex in the Eastern Mediterranean (Ro, Strongyli and Kastellorizo).
Ankara’s choice to proceed with these moves even on a day with difficult weather conditions – although conditions were not as intense in the area – is seen as an indication of its intention to push its claims.
While acknowledging the use of Monday’s meeting at the level of deputy ministers, Athens sought not to emphasize its importance.
For this reason, no joint comments were made. Instead, a joint written statement was issued outlining the subject matter of the talks.
Athens wants channels of communication to be kept open, but does not want to engage in discussions that concern its sovereign rights, nor does it want to appear as the reluctant side.
Athens and Ankara are currently looking for a date for the next round of exploratory contacts, the 64th, most likely in late February or early March.
The next phase of the political dialogue is planned at the level of foreign ministry general secretaries and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal in March or April.
It is not at all clear whether the channel of confidence building measures (MOE) will be activated at the level of defense ministries. The previous one in May 2021 was a teleconference with rather meager results.