“NATO is informed”: Turkish fighter jet overflights provoke Athens

“NATO is informed”
Turkish fighter jet overflights provoke Athens

With a veto threat to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Ankara is putting its allies to a hard test of patience. Athens is now alerting the alliance: Turkish fighter jets are said to have penetrated the Greek military port of Alexandroupolis without permission.

Two Turkish fighter jets have entered Greek airspace and are within 2.5 kilometers of the northeastern port city of Alexandroupolis. The Foreign Ministry in Athens spoke of an “unprecedented violation of national sovereignty”. It is a “very clear escalation of Turkish provocations”.

The fact that Turkish bombers are violating Greek airspace and even flying over inhabited areas has happened almost every day. What is new, however, is that they are heading for the port of Alexandroupolis. The US military maintains a base there through which military equipment can be transported overland to the Ukrainian border within a few hours. The US-Greek cooperation is a thorn in Ankara’s side – the US is thus avoiding the sea route via the Dardanelles Strait and the Bosporus.

The action undermines NATO’s cohesion and priorities and poses a clear threat to the EU, as the port of Alexandroupoli is a key transport hub for the allies, the Greek Foreign Ministry said. Athens lodged a protest with the Turkish ambassador; the EU, NATO and the United Nations (UN) were also informed.

Ankara’s motivations are unclear; so far, overflights by Turkish fighter jets have been seen as a means of questioning the sovereignty of Greek islands. However, Ankara’s veto on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO is now also in the air.

The government in Ankara has raised security concerns over alleged support from both countries for the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and the Kurdish militia YPG in Syria. “We cannot say yes to accepting such a terrorist organization into NATO,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again on Friday. Once again he accused Finland, Sweden, but also Germany and other European countries of not taking decisive action against “terrorist organizations”.

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