Turkey has criticized Greece for escalating tension in the Aegean Sea by provocative flights close to the Turkish coast, reiterating Ankara’s unchanged position for a peaceful resolution to pending problems between the two neighbors.
“The statements of the Foreign Ministry of Greece concerning the incidents that took place between the Air Forces of the two countries in the Aegean Sea on April 27, 2022, do not reflect the truth,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on April 29 in a statement in response to a question regarding the Greek Allegations on Airspace Violations and Overflights in the Aegean Sea.
Bilgiç recalled that the Greek Air Force conducted provocative flights in close proximity to the Turkish coast and repeatedly violated Turkish airspace over Didim, Datça and Dalaman on April 26 and 28.
“The Turkish Air Force reciprocated to these provocative flights and violations in accordance with their rules of engagement,” he informed. “Given that Greece was the party that started and escalated the ongoing tension, making unfounded allegations against Turkey is totally incompatible with the recent positive agenda and good neighborly relations between the two countries.”
Turkey and Greece have long been at odds over the overlapping continental shelf and territorial waters claims in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Greece says it has a right to expand its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles in line with the U.N. Convention on Sea Law, a convention Turkey is not a party to. Turkey underlined the special geographical status of the Aegean Sea and that the UNCLOS cannot be imposed here.
Turkey has long been calling on Greece to hold the fourth round of meetings between the two sides’ defense ministries. Athens has not yet positively responded to Turkey’s invitation. The provocative moves from Athens came a month after Turkish and Greek leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, respectively, met in Istanbul.
“We expect the Greek side to put an end to its provocative rhetoric and actions and sincerely support the Confidence Building Measures process initiated both bilaterally and within NATO so that such incidents do not recur in the future,” Bilgiç stressed.
“There is no change in Turkey’s position towards the settlement of all Aegean disputes, including the breadth of airspace, in accordance with international law and within a framework of sincere dialogue with Greece,” he added.