Turkish overflights continued unabated last week

There was no let-up in Turkey’s incendiary rhetoric and violations in the Aegean last Friday, with unmanned aerial vehicles flying above Kandelioussa, west of Nisyros, which is one of the islands whose sovereignty Ankara has challenged due to its “indefinite ownership.”

At the same time Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed Greece’s determination to defend its rights.

“We are determined to defend our interests based on international law, the law of the sea and the Charter of the United Nations,” Dendias said in Belgrade on Friday, after talks with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic, who expressed Serbia’s support to Greece.

“The Republic of Serbia remains fully consistent in supporting Greece’s territorial integrity, both on land and at sea, under international law, including the law of the sea,” he said. 

Greece’s determination was also expressed by Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, who said that Turkey has not dared to challenge Greece militarily because it would have consequences.

“It is our capabilities that deter the other side from daring a military engagement, because they know the heavy cost that they would be forced to pay. Our armed forces are at all times vigilant, fully ready and decisive,” he told the Manifesto newspaper, adding that [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan “always provokes tension whenever he feels threatened or faces problems at home.” He also noted that Erdoğan’s behaviour has given credence to Greece’s arguments and is exposing him to the international community.

Nonetheless, the overflights continued on Friday, with a Turkish UAV passing twice over Kandelioussa.

The two overflights were identified and intercepted, in accordance with international rules. Overflights above Kandelioussa also occurred in May, February and January.

Meanwhile, in the latest incendiary rhetoric out of Ankara, Ömer Çelik, a spokesman for President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that Greece’s islands must be demilitarised in line with past treaties.

“As soon as you militarise it, you change the status of the islands,” said Çelik. 

He accused Greece of “aggressive propaganda” while the Turkish media also took issue with Greek “provocations,” citing the visit on Thursday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the islands of Pserimos, Kos and Astypalaia. 

Apart from Kandelioussa, Turkey also includes Pserimos among the 16 islands whose sovereignty it is questioning.

(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)


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