NEWS

Ankara eyes F-16 compensation

Turkey is mulling whether to seek compensation from Greece for the F-16 fighter jet it lost in a deadly collision over the Aegean with a Greek jet last month, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said yesterday. The Greek pilot, Costas Iliakis, was killed in the crash on May 23 but the Turkish pilot was pulled out of the sea with minor injuries. Tan said at a news conference in Ankara that the Turkish military was conducting an ongoing investigation into the causes of the accident, adding that the findings so far had been «favorable.» The spokesman added that Ankara would definitely seek compensation from Athens if the military report found the Turkish pilot was not to blame for the crash. Before the crash, Greek jets had been shadowing Turkish planes as they had entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans. Details about what exactly caused the accident remain sketchy but sources have so far indicated that it was an accidental collision. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said he was aware of Tan’s comments but refused to say if Greece would contest the claim. «I remind you that the matter is being investigated by an air force general staff committee, which will issue a report,» he said. Diplomatic sources said that Athens believes the decision to press for compensation has come from political rather than military circles and the Greek government does not expect anything to come of it. Koumoutsakos said the moratorium for military flights over the Aegean would begin on July 1, even though the countries’ foreign ministers agreed on Saturday that it would start on June 15.