Turkish violations of Greek air space, sea fuel concern

A day after Turkish fighter jets violated Greece’s national air space in the Aegean in a show of force, outgoing Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday underlined that the Greek armed forces would protect the country’s interests.

In comments made on the anniversary of Greece joining the allied forces in World War II, Avramopoulos, who later this week assumes the post of European commissioner for immigration, issued a terse message to the neighboring country. “Wherever the country’s interests are at stake, the Greek armed forces are always present,” he said.

The statement came just a few hours after Turkish fighter jets entered the Athens Flight Information region on two occasions, in one case over Lesvos and Chios and in another over the islets of Fournoi.

The transgressions came amid indications that Turkey is boosting its presence off the southern coast of Cyprus, where Cypriot authorities have a license to prospect for underwater energy reserves. Sources at the Greek Foreign Ministry said the move was being interpreted as an attempt by Ankara to raise tensions amid reports that Turkish authorities have approached major international energy firms in a bid to begin drilling in the area.

Greece’s Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is due in Nicosia on Wednesday to discuss the situation with his Cypriot counterparts ahead of a scheduled visit to the Cyprus capital on November 7 by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

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