Greek Leader Complains Turkish Fighter Jets ‘Harassed’ Him over Aegean Islands in ‘Stupid Act’
The alleged harassment that forced Tsipras’s chopper to manuever came as he was heading for an event celebraing the anniversary since the Greek Uprising against the Ottoman Empire back in 1821.
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has complained that two fighter jets of the Turkish Air Force “harassed” his helicopter over the Aegean Sea as he was on his way to the small Greek island of Agathonisi.
Tsipras was being transported in a Chinook helicopter to Agathonisi located near the island of Samos, one of the Dodecanese Islands in the Eastern Aegean Sea, and very close to Turkey’s Anatolian mainland, when the two Turkish fighter jets came close, the state-run ANA-MPA news agency reported, as cited by Ekathimerini.
The two Turkish Air Force planes were then intercepted by F-16 Greek fighter jets but the helicopter of Greece’s Prime Minister still had to do evasive maneuvers.
According to the Greek reports, the two Turkish F-4 fighters violated Greek airspace as they approached Tsipras’s helicopter.
The Turkish Air Force planes were flying at a height of about 2,000 meters, while the Greek leader’s helicopter was thrice as low, when they within 4 miles of it.
“Coming here, I was harassed by Turkish planes that forced the helicopter I was on to take evasive action and for what purpose?” Tsipras said in a speech in Agathonisi.
“Greece is a force for peace and cooperation, this is the message I want to send to the neighbors, cooperation and growing together, not fake bravado which only wastes kerosene,” he said.
“These stupid acts are meaningless. They should know the Prime Minister will reach even the most isolated (island) by swimming, if necessary. We have open arms, for dialogue and understanding, but, if necessary, we will do what our forefathers did,” Tsipras elaborated referring to the 198th anniversary since the start of the Greek Uprising for independence from the Ottoman Empire back in 1821.
“I had the honor of welcoming you here in Agathonisi and some fighter aircrafts of the Turkish air force, perhaps for the day, wanted to participate in the celebration,” Greece’s Prime Minister joked.
Turkey’s security forces refuted Tsipras’s the accusations of helicopter harassment, and said their jets were “conducting their regular mission”, as cited by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Technically NATO allies, Greece and Turkey have been entangled in long-term territorial and resource disputes in the Aegean Sea where Greek islands are located very close to the Turkish mainland, making conventional sea law hard to apply with respect to sea borders and exclusive economic zones.
What is more, a dispute over two uninhabited islands with a combined territory of 10 acres called Imia by Greece and Kardak by Turkey nearly led to war in 1987 and then again in 1995, with more tensions flaring up in 2017.
While in 2017 Recep Erdogan became the first Turkish leader to visit Greece in 65 years, a step towards improving relations, earlier this week Greeks were angered by his intention to turn the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the former Roman – Byzantine cathedral and a museum, in a mosque once again.
(Banner image: Wikipedia)