The Greek Foreign Ministry lodged a strongly worded protest with the Turkish ambassador in Athens after an escalation of Turkish overflights in the eastern Aegean on Wednesday.
Despite an informal agreement for a moratorium after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ankara persisted with continuous overflights in the Aegean throughout the Easter period. The same trend continued this week, with violations on Wednesday above Arkoi, Lipsoi, Oinousses, Farmakonisi and Samos, the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) announced.
In a statement, the ministry said such “actions constitute a violation of Greek sovereignty, are an unacceptable challenge and are contrary to fundamental principles of international law.” In addition to being illegal and provocative, overflights also endanger international air traffic, it added, stressing that they “contradict the principle of good-neighborly relations between the two countries and undermine efforts to consolidate a climate of trust.”
However, Ankara appeared unfazed as Turkish fighter jets proceeded with fresh overflights above Lipsoi and Arkoi.
In previous years, Turkish fighter jets would conduct overflights during Easter Week but would cease on Easter Sunday. That was not the case this year, with overflights reported on Easter Sunday.
Despite the recent meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has been active in areas of the Aegean it calls “gray zones,” while there has been no letup in statements by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, accusing Athens of “illegal and provocative actions.” “While we are reaching out and trying to make the Mediterranean a sea of peace, we are facing the illegal and provocative actions and acts of some Greek officials,” he said a few days ago.
The barrage of Turkish provocations comes on the heels of the harassment by radio during Easter Week of the helicopter that transported the Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias to Oinousses.