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Turkey rejects Greece’s charges of illegal military flights: Athens ‘started tension’

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Turkey rejected on Thursday Greece’s accusations that Turkish military aircraft conducted unauthorized flights over Greek islands, pointing the finger of the blame at Athens over “provocative flights” violating airspace controlled by Ankara.

Greece made on Wednesday a formal protest to Turkey accusing it of conducting unauthorized military flights over inhabited Greek islands.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said on Thursday Greece’s statements “do not reflect the truth”.

The official instead said that Ankara’s military flights were in response to provocations and violations by Athens.

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“On 26-28 April 2022, the Greek Air Force conducted provocative flights in close proximity of the Turkish coast and repeatedly violated the Turkish airspace over Didim, Datça and Dalaman. The Turkish Air Force reciprocated to these provocative flights and violations in accordance with their rules of engagement,” Bilgic said in a statement.

He added: “Given that Greece was the party that started and escalated the said tension, making unfounded allegations against Turkey is totally incompatible with the recent positive agenda and good neighborly relations between the two countries.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday he contacted NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to report the airspace violation by Turkey.

“I spoke earlier with the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg to inform him of the latest provocative behavior of the Turkish armed forces violating Greek airspace, dangerously overflying Greek Islands, such as Samos, Lesvos, Chios, Karpathos, to name but a few. And I made it clear to Secretary General Stoltenberg that this type of behavior by a NATO ally in the Southeast flank of the Alliance is simply unacceptable,” Mitsotakis said during a press conference with his Finnish counterpart.

He added: “It undermines European security as well as the unity of purpose of NATO at a time when amongst NATO members it is indispensable for all of us to remain united, as we face the continued aggression of Russia in Ukraine.”

Neighbours and fellow-NATO members Greece and Turkey have had a series of air and sea border disputes.

Tensions between the two countries increased since 2020 thanks to Ankara’s plans to explore for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

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