NEWS

FM appeals to EU over Turkey

Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas yesterday raised the issue of ongoing Turkish provocations in the Aegean with the European Union’s General Affairs and External Relations Council following a series of violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters by Turkish fighter jets and vessels this week. Droutsas highlighted the «extremely dangerous» tactic of Turkish F16s harassing Greek coast guard helicopters participating in anti-immigration patrols in cooperation with Frontex, the EU’s border monitoring agency. Droutsas appealed to the EU’s council just a few days after lodging an official complaint with diplomats in Ankara last Friday when Turkish F16s «locked onto» a Greek coast guard helicopter and threatened to shoot it down as it flew over Farmakonisi. Droutsas, who is due to visit Turkish government officials in Ankara later this month ahead of a scheduled trip to Greece by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stressed yesterday that he was hopeful for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations. «These activities bother us and they are certainly not being ignored,» Droutsas told a business and economic conference in Athens organized by the International Herald Tribune. But he indicated that diplomacy would prevail over aggression. «Foreign policy is not trench warfare,» he remarked. In a related development defense officials expressed concern after a Turkish corvette, which had been participating in an international operation in the Aegean, veered close to Greek territorial waters off the island of Santorini. It is the seventh such incident in the region this year.