Turkish military jets in flurry of air space violations
Greek-Turkish tensions were fueled further yesterday after Turkish fighter jets made 10 flights over an area that includes the islets of Imia and Kalolimnos, and 162 violations of Greek national air space.
The violations were seen as a response to the dropping of a wreath over Imia by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who flew there by helicopter yesterday morning to commemorate three Greek servicemen who were killed 21 years ago when their military chopper crashed at the height of the Imia crisis, which brought the two countries to the brink of war. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Kammenos struck a defiant tone, saying that the Greek armed forces “are ready to deal with any provocation.” In response to Kammenos’s visit to the Imia islets – whose status has been repeatedly disputed by Ankara – his Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik told Hurriyet Daily News that Turkey doesn’t want tension with Greece, but “won’t bow to fait accompli.” Kammenos’s visit to Imia came after a Turkish gunboat with Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar onboard sailed around the Imia islets on Sunday. The recent spike in threats emanating from Ankara follows the Supreme Court’s refusal to extradite eight Turkish servicemen to Turkey to stand trial for their alleged role in the failed coup attempt there.Yesterday a Greek court ruled that the officers should be detained for three months pending examination of their asylum bids. The men argued for their release as,they have not been convicted of any wrongdoing.