Greece launched Wednesday a “strong” diplomatic protest against Turkey over the illegal overflights of Turkish jets in eastern Aegean earlier in the day.
The foreign ministry in Athens summoned the Turkish Ambassador to Greece to launch the protest.
“These actions constitute a violation of Greek sovereignty, are an unacceptable challenge and are contrary to fundamental principles of international law,” the statement from the ministry said.
It stressed that the overflights “in addition to being illegal and provocative, endanger international air traffic.”
They further “contradict the principle of good neighborly relations between the two countries and undermine efforts to consolidate a climate of trust,” the statement added.
Turkey’s jets fly over at least 6 islands in Greece
Earlier on Wednesday, a pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets flew over the islands of Arki, Lipsi, Agathonisi, Samos, Fourni, and Oinousses, the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) announced.
Specifically, the Turkish fighters flew over Arki at 10:18 at 27,000 feet, at 10:21 at 26,000 feet and at 10:28 at 22,000 feet and over Lipsi at 10:19 at 27,000 feet, at 10:22 and at 10:24 at 26,000 feet and at 10:26 at 21,000 feet.
The pair of jets also flew over Agathonisi at 10:29 at 25,000 feet, over the southeastern part of Samos at 10:33 at 25,000 feet, over Fourni at 10:37 at 26,000 feet, and over Oinousses at 10: 43 at 28,000 feet.
The Turkish jets were identified and intercepted by the Hellenic Air Force “in accordance with international rules of engagement,” GEETHA said.
The overflights come while the world has been distracted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Turkish aircraft have, in fact, been violating Greek airspace almost non-stop since the beginning of the year.
According to GEETHA, Turkey violated Greek airspace every single day from April 11-13. Its F-16 fighter jets flew above the Greek islands of Panagia, Oinousses, and Farmakonisi.
Turkey questions the sovereignty of the Greek islands
Back in February, Greece issued a diplomatic protest, or demarche, to Turkey over the continued provocations of Turkish officials, including President Erdogan, who have even been questioning the sovereignty of the Aegean islands.
The demarche mentioned as examples Turkey’s 1995 threat to go to war with Greece – the so-called “casus belli” – if Athens exercises its legal right to extend its territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles, as well as the illegal Turkey-Libya memorandum on maritime zones, and the “Blue Homeland” rhetoric.
The Foreign Ministry also instructed the Greek embassies in the European Union, NATO and the members of the UN Security Council to brief them on the escalation of Turkey’s activities.
Erdogan had earlier warned Greece against attempts to arm the Aegean islands. “It is not possible for us to remain silent about the military activities carried out in violation of the agreements on the islands with disarmed status,” Erdogan said.
Turkey claims that Greece has been violating international agreements by stationing troops and armaments in the eastern islands in the Aegean Sea. Greece has repeatedly dismissed these charges by responding that as long as there is a Turkish military threat to these islands they will not be demilitarized.