While Turkey escalates tensions in the Aegean with repeated issuings of illegal NAVTEXes, the amount of Turkish warplane overflights over Greece in 2020 outnumber those that have been made in the past decade.
The number of overflights of Turkish fighter jets over Greek islands since the beginning of the year has reached 401, according to Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) figures. A record number that demonstrates Ankara’s willingness to take the situation to the very limit — until Greece reacts with aggression.
Almost all the overflights that Turkish aircraft have made in the last decade were done in this year, through October of 2020. The numbers are clearly indicative of Turkey’s provocative stance.
From 2009 to 2019, a total of 450 overflights were recorded. In fact, there were years when the neighboring country’s aircraft flew very rarely over our islands, such as in 2012 when the overflights were only three. In 2019 — which was itself a record year until 2020 — the number reached 219. In 2020, they have almost doubled thus far.
Furthermore, in 2020 Turkish warplanes flew over the Evros region, the location of the embattled Greece-Turkey land border, which saw attempts to breach it this past Spring. They also did not hesitate to fly over large islands in the Aegean, including Rhodes, Lesvos, Chios and Samos.
More disturbingly, they even flew over Lemnos, the base of the Greek Air Force 133rd Combat Squadron.
Reports of Greek pilots who had to scramble and intercept the Turkish fighters show the audacity of Turkish pilots who are clearly operating with orders to provoke.
Despite the fact that the Greek fighters routinely approach them from “6 o’clock,” that is, they follow the “tail” of the Turkish fighters from a breathing distance, the Turkish pilots nonchalantly continue their flight over the Greek territories as if nothing is happening.
And after they have carried out their mission, they often turn east without even becoming engaged with the Greek aircraft in any way.
The increase of overflights comes at a time when Ankara almost every day demands the demilitarization of the Greek islands and calls for Greece to cease any military exercise, even on a small scale, on the islands.
And the irrational Turkish demands are not just words; the neighbors now routinely issue repeated NAVTEXes to enter and block off Greek territorial waters for their own use, invoking the Treaty of Lausanne — which they themselves violate repeatedly, refusing its legality.
Simultaneously with the continual provocations in the air, Ankara continues to put pressure on Greece in the sea, with the research vessel Oruc Reis entering Greek territorial waters eight times in just three months.
Currently, Ankara has renewed the Naval directive for the stay of the research ship inside the waters atop the Greek continental shelf until November 23rd. Turkey is conducting, as it claims, “three-dimensional surveys,” with the next step being possible drilling in the region before the year’s end.