Tensions continue to rise in the southeastern region of Turkey. For a change, this time the trouble is not between Turkey and Russia, but with its long-time Hellenic antagonist, Greece. The Greeks have had enough of Turkey’s violations of their airspace. And so this happened yesterday:
A formation of six Turkish jets, with a CN-235 transport plane on each side, entered Greece’s national airspace a total of nine times without permission, according to Greek daily newspaper Ekathimerini. The Turkish jets, two of which were armed, had to be chased out by a Greek aircraft.
Last month, Turkey shot down a Russian plane for doing the exact same thing. When that happened, the Greeks were the first to call the Turks on their hypocrisy, arguing that the Turkish air force violates Greece’s airspace every single day. See the stats from last year:
[T]he Protothema newspaper released the numbers of breaches saying the Turkish Air Force is usually reluctant to share any details when it comes to such violations. The newspaper quoted University of Thessaly statistics based on the Greek military’s count – there were 2,244 violations in 2014, an increase from 636 in 2013.
This means that the Turks have violated Greece’s airspace an average of six times a day. Both countries are members of NATO, which means they’re supposed to be allies who — at least on paper — are supposed to respect each other’s territorial integrity.
Russia isn’t the only country in the region that likes to throw its weight around and violate other nations’ airspace in an attempt to intimidate and bully them. Turkey may have been the victim of such games last month, but it’s frequently doing the same to its western neighbors, along the border with Greece and its islands off the Aegean coast. It’s a game of chicken that could easily end in disaster.