Turkish and Greek fighter jets engaged in a mid-air dogfight over the Aegean Sea twice on 15th April for the first time since January 2012, Greek media has reported.
According to the reports based on Greek military sources, four F-16s belonging to the Turkish Air Force approached the Semadirek (Samothraki) Island before the first dogfight. Four Greek F-16s took off “to locate and prevent” the Turkish aircraft. Sides faced off against each other north of Samothraki, as well as southwest of Limni (Limnos) Island.
However, the official website of the Turkish General Staff did not list any violations or dogfights for that date.
Greece unilaterally claims 10 nautical miles (19 km) of airspace, as opposed to the six miles of territorial waters, as Turkey and other NATO countries accept. Athens considers any unauthorised flight in the airspace from six to 10 miles in the Aegean a “violation.”
The significant decrease in dogfights between Turkish and Greek aircraft over the Aegean Sea because of the economic crisis Athens is struggling with.
Both Greece and Turkey currently claim 6 nautical miles (nm) territorial seas in the Aegean. However, on 31 May 1995 the Greek parliament ratified the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which includes, under Article 3, the stipulation that “Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles.” Turkey, which is not a signatory to the Convention, maintains that 12nm represents the maximum the territorial sea can be extended to and that this is inappropriate in a semi-enclosed sea such as the Aegean. Turkey then declared that this event created a ‘causus belli’, In other words a justification for acts of war.