The Chief of Hellenic National Defense General Staff, Konstantinos Floros, honored the memory of a fallen lieutenant named Nikolaos Sialmas by flying a plane over his memorial on Friday.
This flight commemorates 29 years since Sialmas’ tragic and untimely death while on duty on June 18, 1992.
Hellenic defense flies plane over memorial
Floros chose to fly the F-16 block 52 plus fighter aircraft over the memorial in a very symbolic tribute. The use of a fighter jet could commemorate Sialmas’ bravery in fighting for his nation and his heavy involvement in national defense during the course of his life.
Sialmas crashed in a Greek Mirage jetfighter aircraft in 1992 while attempting to defend his country from alleged Turkish violations of Greek airspace. Greece’s official line after the tragedy was that Turkey was to blame, as its fighter jets “were in violation of national airspace and international flight principles of civil aviation”.
Fast forward 29 years and Sialmas’ memory continues to live on. Floros flew with the Chief of Tactical Aviation, Lieutenant General Themistoklis Bourolias, and they both flew F-16 planes.
The flight path concentrated on the Aegean islands as the memorial to Sialmas is located on the island of Agios Efstratios. The Hellenic Defense planes then flew over the north, central and eastern Aegean sea, ending the flight on Skyros.
Once there, Floros disembarked and met with officers and members of the Hellenic Air Force who are currently serving, and thanked them for their work, bravery, and sacrifices.
When the unfortunate accident occurred, Foreign Ministry spokesman Dimitris Avramopoulos was quoted as saying “the accident was caused by Turkey’s persistence in continuing its provocative tactic,” which involves repeatedly violating and entering airspace which Greece claims as its own.
Turkey did not take any responsibility for Sialmas’ death, with the Turkish Prime Minister at the time, Suleyman Demirel, saying, “It’s their own fault, not ours”.
Mitsotakis, Erdogan “break ice” on Greece-Turkey relations
The leaders of Greece and Turkey, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met in Brussels on Monday, in what Greek officials described as an “ice-breaking” meeting.
The two leaders met privately, with only two interpreters present, on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.
Greek sources said that the meeting, lasting more than an hour, was held in a “positive climate.” They added that the two leaders agreed “to leave behind the tension of 2020, despite the very important disagreements that exist.”
Earlier, Mitsotakis said that he was open to a positive agenda when he meets Erdogan.
Speaking at the EU Mediterranean countries ministerial meeting (EU-Med7) held in Athens, he stated that Greece is always open to a positive agenda with Turkey “but in a gradual, proportionate and reversible fashion.”