Turkey has sharply increased its offensive behavior in the Aegean in recent months, data presented by the Greek edition of Kathimerini on Sunday show. Indicatively, national airspace violations quadrupled from January to April compared to 2021, while there were also eight times more overflights over the same period.
More specifically, in the first four months of the year, Greek Defense Ministry agencies recorded 2,377 incidents, compared to just 618 in 2021. In fact, 1,465 occurred between March 14 and April 30, in a dangerous escalation in the Aegean by Turkey, which has also been claiming that the sovereignty of the islands is linked to their demilitarization.
The overflights by Turkish fighter jets are of particular concern as they constitute a flagrant violation of national sovereignty. Between January and April, Turkish aircraft flew 120 times over Greek territory, against 15 overflights in 2021.
Tellingly, there was an unprecedented barrage of overflights on April 27 specifically, just a few days after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ Washington visit. Tensions ran high on that Wednesday, with Turkey conducting 42 overflights above 21 Greek islands – the most in a single day since 1974.
In response to the escalation since April 27, Athens canceled an invitation for the participation of the Turkish air force in the international NATO Tiger Meet exercise, while briefing its NATO and EU partners of Ankara’s aggressive actions. Turkey’s behavior was also included in the letter sent by US lawmakers to President Joe Biden on July 5, calling for a freeze on the sale of F-16s to Turkey, as Ankara uses them to violate Greek airspace.