Greek and Israeli air forces conducted a joint training exercise in Israel on Tuesday. The operation came as Greece’s neighbor, Turkey, increased military overflights over Greek islands, behavior that has ratcheted up tensions between the two nations.
In another move seen as potentially hostile, far-right nationalist Turkish politician Devlet Bahçeli released a map on Saturday that depicts the Greek islands in the Aegean and even Crete as Turkish territory. This week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—a Bahçeli ally—to respond.
For Tuesday’s training exercise, Greek and Israeli jet fighters took part in advanced air battles and refueling Greek fighter jets, among other maneuvers, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Greece-Israel Air Force Training
The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed the exercise, which was seen as a significant act of cooperation between the two countries. Despite the escalating tension between Turkey and Greece, Tuesday’s operation between Israel and Greece was part of their 2022 training program.
This month, Greek-American lawmakers in the US Congress mobilized to ensure that the Biden administration does not proceed with the sale and the upgrade of Turkey’s existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
A bipartisan group of US legislators filed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act last week that would prevent the sale if Turkey continues its territorial overflights and air space violations in the Aegean. The amendment was submitted to Congress at the initiative of Greek-American member of parliament Chris Pappas and was co-signed by Dina Titus, Carolyn B. Maloney, Charlie Crist, and John Sarbanes.
In response to Turkey’s increased military overflights, Germany, in June, condemned the violation of Greece’s air space following a meeting between chancellor Olaf Scholz and Mitsotakis.
A German government official was quoted as saying “the violation of Greek air space and overflights above Greek islands is not correct.”
Around the same time, Erdogan said Turkey would halt talks with Greece, partly over a dispute with Mitsotakis and, according to Ankara, Greece’s airspace violations of Turkey’s territory.
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