Turkey has infuriated the Greek government by issuing an aviation notice about a 10-month military drill in the Aegean Sea. Greece has reportedly complained about the notice to international organisations saying it was a “violation of Greek integrity and flight safety.”
A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued by Turkey on 27th February, reserving extensive airspace over the Aegean Sea for military use between 2nd March and 31st December.
Incensed over the move, Athens claimed that it violated Greek sovereignty rights and international law as the airspace cited by the Turkish military covers the Greek islands of Skiros and Lemnos.
According to Greek media, the government sent letters of complaint to NATO, the European Union, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the United Nations over the weekend, denouncing the Turkish military’s plans.
The Greek Foreign Ministry also sent a cancellation NOTAM to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on 1st March, stating Ankara would be responsible for any accident that may occur in the region, local media also claimed.
Tension between Turkey and Greece over the Aegean has been on the rise, especially after the election of the new Syriza government in Greece in January.
Immediately after assuming the post, new Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos visited the disputed Aegean islets of Imia/Kardak with a military helicopter on 30th January.
Three weeks later, by way of response, the commander of the Turkish Air Force, General Akın Öztürk, personally took part in a training mission, piloting an F-16 in a low-altitude flight over international waters near Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
Dogfights occasionally occur between Turkish and Greek aircraft over the Aegean Sea, as the two countries have been involved a long-standing territorial dispute.
The number of such dogfights has increased recently, after a relative decline amid talks between Turkey and Greece to resolve their disagreements on the continental shelf over the Aegean.