Turkish warnings for helicopters carrying Greek president on island tour

Turkish warnings for helicopters carrying Greek president on island tour

The military helicopters transporting Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on his tour of Aegean islands on Tuesday suffered radio interference from Turkey.

According to Greek military sources, the pilots flying the Chinook and Huey helicopters received messages from the Turkish armed forces that they were flying in a demilitarized zone where such flights are forbidden. As is customary in such cases, the Greek pilots did not respond to the callings from the Turkish side.

Such interference is not rare but it is believed that on Tuesday’s messages were an indirect response to Pavlopoulos’s recent comments about Turkey.

Apart from Pavlopoulos, who has been highly critical of Ankara in the wake of the recent collapse of the Cyprus reunification talks, the helicopters were also carrying Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff Evangelos Apostolakis.

The group traveled on Tuesday from Rhodes to Symi, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi and Chios. Pavlopoulos is due to visit on Wednesday the islet of Panaghia, Lemnos and Aghios Efstratios.

During the speeches he gave on Tuesday to members of the national guard on the islands he visited, Pavlopoulos said that Greece is ready to support Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union as long as Ankara respects international law. He also made references to the treaties of Lausanne and Paris, which established Greek sovereignty over numerous Aegean islands. He said these two agreements leave no doubts about Greece’s borders, dismissing any suggestion from Turkey that there are so-called “gray zones” in the Aegean.

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias was in Nicosia on Tuesday for a meeting of the Cypriot National Council, which was chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades. The purpose of the discussion was to decide on the next steps that should be taken after the collapse of reunification talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

Athens and Nicosia have a positive view of the position taken by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is in favor of scrapping intervention rights and the system of guarantees.

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