Athens on Thursday dismissed claims by Ankara that it kept the Greek foreign minister’s plane in the air for 20 minutes before entering the Turkish airspace because it had not provided a flight plan, saying that proper procedures had been followed.
“Despite the fact that all the necessary steps were taken by the Greek side in order for the government plane carrying the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, to pass through the airspace of Turkey, once again the Turkish authorities resorted to a provocative action, [which was] completely unnecessary,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Vassilis Koinis told journalists during a briefing.
Greek state broadcaster ERT reported that the plane carrying Dendias back from a visit to Baghdad the previous day was kept circling over Mosul for 20 minutes because Turkish authorities weren’t granting it permission to fly through Turkish airspace back to Greece.
A source with knowledge of the incident said that, not only did Greek authorities submit a flight plan, but the diplomatic delegation had to wait “for a significant amount of time” in Baghdad for the Turkish approval.
This happened after it was decided that Dendias would not fly to Erbil due to a mechanical problem in the aircraft.
Koinis said the Greek embassy in Ankara has filed a complaint and asked Turkish authorities not to repeat such “unacceptable” incidents.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denied any deliberate move to hold up the plane. According to the ministry, the plane that took Dendias to Iraq broke down there, and the Greek government then allocated a second plane, which took off without the required flight plan.