Ankara to expose evidence of Greece violations of Turkish airspace
Ankara plans to show evidence to the NATO alliance that Greek military jets have violated Turkish airspace.
Ankara intends to share with NATO member states radar recordings of Greece's alleged use of S-300 air defense systems in the pursuit of Turkish aircraft, A Haber TV channel reported, citing sources in the Ministry of Defense.
Turkey's defense ministry will send the radar data of the Greek S-300 air defense systems escorting the Turkish F-16 jets to NATO General Secretariat as well as to all 30 allied countries, the TV channel reported, adding that Greece continues to violate the Turkish waters and airspace.
On August 23, Greece's S-300 missile system on Crete put a lock on Turkish F-16 jets flying west of Rhodes, at 10,000 feet, according to Turkish Defense Ministry sources.
According to the sources, the action was "incompatible with the spirit of (NATO) alliance" and amounted to "hostile acts" under NATO's rules of engagement. "Despite this hostile action, (Turkish) jets completed their planned missions and returned to their base safely."
"Greece has challenged NATO and allies by escalating its hostile behavior, which started by harassing our airspace and aircraft, to the level of engaging the S-300s. Greece is neither our political, economic, nor military partner and interlocutor," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Greek side denied the incident, with sources arguing that "Greece's S-300 missile system has never put a lock on Turkish F-16 jets." It accused Turkey of distorting reality and spreading false facts when accusing Greece of targeting its military aviation.
Since the beginning of the year Greek military jets have violated Turkish airspace 256 times and chased Turkish planes 158 times, the TV channel said, adding that the Greek Coast Guard's boats also violated Turkey's waters 33 times.
CNN Turk broadcaster reported on Sunday, citing sources in the Turkish defense ministry, that Greece had deployed an S-300 air defense system to escort the F-16 fighters of the Turkish air forces performing a reconnaissance mission 10,000 feet west of Rhodes Island on August 23. According to the Turkish media, the planes fulfilled their planned tasks and safely returned to their bases, despite the hostile actions.
Sources in the Greek Defense Ministry categorically denied Ankara's claims that Athens deployed its S-300 system in Crete against Turkey's F-16s, describing the statements as myths aimed at creating a hostile attitude toward Greece.
The relations between Athens and Ankara have been complicated for decades. The countries were on the verge of an armed conflict three times in the summer of 2020. Greece had to mobilize its armed forces after Turkey launched a seismic survey in the Eastern Mediterranean, the area that Athens considers its exclusive economic zone.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut the line of dialogue with his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, after learning that he'd lobbied to block US arms sales to Turkey. Within this context, Turkey was sanctioned in 2019 for purchasing Russian missile defense systems.
Ankara, noting that Athens had purchased Russian air defense systems, criticized other Western countries for doing the same with their two-sided policies.
In July, Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock slammed Turkey over the disputed islands located in the Aegean sea.
Turkey has stepped up its criticism of Greece since Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke to the US Congress last May, during which he openly criticized Turkey without giving prior notice.
Turkish pro-government media interpreted the speech as an appeal to Washington not to supply the F-16 fighter jets it requested from the US.
Turkish authorities also accused the Greeks of establishing a military presence in the islands of the Aegean Sea in violation, according to them, of two treaties.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated that Ankara would challenge Greece's sovereignty over the islands if it continued to send troops there.
“Greece has violated the status of these islands and must disarm them. Otherwise, a debate on their sovereignty will begin,” he told the Anatolia news agency.