Roar of jets jolts Olympic truce
Greek and Turkish fighter pilots jousted over the Aegean for a second day in a row yesterday, as Athens expressed annoyance at Wednesday’s incident in which two Turkish jets penetrated deep into Greek air space to fly over the fortress island of Lemnos. «Such behavior is not in tune with the spirit of cooperation that has already grown between our two governments, nor of course with the spirit of the Olympic Games,» Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said of Wednesday’s violation in the northeastern Aegean, in which two Turkish F-4 fighters roared over the northeastern tip of Lemnos at a height of 500 feet. Greek anti-aircraft missiles locked on to both Turkish planes as they entered Greek air space, while the F-4s were intercepted and chased off by Greek fighters. Although the two countries’ fighter pilots routinely engage in simulated dogfights over the Aegean as a result of disagreements over the precise extent of Greece’s air space, the Lemnos overflight was the most serious incident of its sort in recent months. It drew an official demarche from the Foreign Ministry. «Such behavior is by no means acceptable, and will be duly assessed at a political and operational level,» Spiliotopoulos said. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos admitted that the overflight was «not a pleasant incident,» but stressed that Turkish violations of Greek air space have fallen 44 percent this year, compared to 2003. Later yesterday, the Defense Ministry said a total of 12 Turkish F-16 fighters had violated Greek air space seven times in the central and northern Aegean before being chased off by Greek jets. In all cases, the intruders were caught on the radars of Greece’s air defense missile systems.