ATHENS Ñ Turkey has sent armed fighter-jets to confront Greek combat
aircraft in the Aegean Sea.
Greek officials said Turkey's air force has sent armed F-4 Phantom
fighter-jets to enter Greek air space in the Aegean Sea. They said Turkish
aircraft have committed a record number of violations of Greek air space
over the last two weeks.
Western diplomatic sources said the Greek-Turkish tension comes amid
Ankara's increasing isolation. The sources point to U.S. anger over Turkey's
refusal to allow American combat troops to form a second front during the
war in Iraq.
In addition, Turkey has been unable to obtain European Union approval of
a timetable for membership, Middle East Newsline reported. The EU has demanded that Ankara first engage in
a series of reforms before it is considered for membership.
Is Group-think Rational?
Those who believe that an unplanned, random "Big Bang" explosion of unknown matter caused the formation of the numberless bodies of the cosmos should be able to answer the following questions: Read on . . .
Greek Defense Ministry sources said 36 Turkish fighter-jets committed up
to 25 violations of Greek airspace in the northern and central Aegean over
the last few days. The sources said Hellenic Air Force sent aircraft to
scramble and intercept the Turkish planes.
The sources reported seven episodes of engagements by Greek and Turkish
aircraft. They said Greek pilots reported that nine of the Turkish aircraft
were armed with missiles. No fire was reported.
Greece and Turkey agreed to a series of confidence-building measures at
the end of May following increased tension between the two countries over
resurgence of mutual allegations of mock dogfights over the Aegean.
The Turkish violations were reported after Greek Foreign Minister George
Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, signed an agreement to
institute confidence-building measures. The measures include mutual visits
by military officers and an information-sharing system between military
"These measures are particularly important because they are not directly
military, but they do involve the militaries of our two countries,"
Papandreou told reporters.
Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou has warned that the engagements
between Greek and Turkish warplanes could lead to an accident. Papantoniou
has appealed to the European Union and the United States to stop what he
termed Turkish violations of Greek air space.
The defense minister said the tensions with Turkey have halted plans to
further cut Greece's defense budget. Papantoniou said defense spending in
Greece has dropped from five percent to 3.5 percent of the gross domestic
Turkey has not recognized Greece's claim to air space and territorial
waters in some parts of the Aegean. Ankara has refused to provide advance
notification of Turkish air exercises in the Aegean.
Greece claims that its national air space in the Aegean extends 16
kilometers. Turkey recognizes only six.