A week of Turkey violating Greek territory

by omouggos

A pair of Turkish F-16 fighters (image from protothema.gr)

Just to show what a good NATO ally Turkey is here is what their military has been up to in the Aegean over the past week. Starting on Monday and continuing daily till Friday, Turkish jets, usually F-16’s, violated Greek airspace in the region between the islands of Lesbos and Chios, and frequently flew over the small island of Oinousses.[1] In addition to these aerial violations, on Wednesday night a Turkish naval vessel violated Greek waters near Oinousses.[2] The reportedly the vessel “even pointed its weapons against the Greek ship” while ignoring repeated warnings from the Greek coast guard.

One may wonder why does Turkey habitually violate Greek territory, especially given the fact that Turkey itself seems very prickly to the violation of its own airspace? Firstly Erdoğan plays by his own rules, what is permisible for him is not for others. Secondly, in the eyes of many Turks, parts of the Greek Aegean is considered to be Turkish territory pursuant with their neo-Ottoman agenda. So in there minds they are not really violating the territory of a foreign country but instead are asserting their claims to area.

Thirdly, every time Turkey violates their airspace, the Greeks are forced to scramble fighter jet. Such necessary responses cost money, especially due to fuel and maintenance costs, and given Greece’s financial dire straits, this is money they do not have. So the Turks are doing their own little bit to help bankrupt Greece. And fourthly Turkey is confident that Greece will not militarily respond and blast one of their violating jets out of the sky.

However, sooner or later, likely not during the reign of the current SYRIZA government, but especially so if a more truculent and pugnacious party comes to power in Greece, such as the far-right Golden Dawn party, then we could see a Turkey warplane shot down by Greek forces. The likely outcome of such an incident would be a limited war between Greece and Turkey, akin to what is occurring between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

What will be of particular interest if such a war does in fact occur, is that it will be between two NATO allies. As such how will NATO respond? Will it be a dispassionate observer or will it take sides? What will the EU do? Will it side with Greece or Turkey? Given the behavior of EU officials and Angela Merkel towards Turkey, my guess is that they will support Turkey.

O Mouggos


[1] http://en.protothema.gr/turkey-violates-again-greek-airspace/ , http://en.protothema.gr/turkey-violates-again-greek-airspace/ , http://en.protothema.gr/six-violations-of-greek-airspace-by-turkish-fighters-in-one-hour/ , http://en.protothema.gr/turkey-continues-violating-greek-airspace/ , http://en.protothema.gr/20-more-airspace-violations-by-turkish-jets/

[2] http://en.protothema.gr/turkish-ship-points-its-weapons-against-greek-coast-guard-at-oinousses/