“Combat and support aircraft of our Air Force and the AWACS aircraft commissioned by NATO performed the NEXUS ACE training mission, which was notified to all allies 24 hours in advance, in international airspace over the Aegean Sea on Monday,” the ministry said in a statement on Dec. 20.
Despite Greek “harassment” aimed to prevent the mission, the Turkish Air Force continued its task and “successfully” completed the mission, while Turkish F-16 jets that took off from Dalaman and Akhisar air bases responded to the Greek aircraft, it said.
This is the second similar incident since the weekend. Greek aircraft “tried to prevent” a Turkish-NATO mission in the Aegean, and Turkish warplanes gave a “necessary response,” the Defense Ministry said on Dec. 17.
The two countries are often at odds over their overlapping claims of air space and territorial waters in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Ankara accuses Athens of creating provocations in the region for its maximalist ambitions. Greece claims that it has a 10-mile air space although its territorial waters are 6 miles, which Ankara says is in violation of international law and patterns.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had initiated a deconfliction mechanism for Türkiye and Greece at NATO, but the latter suspended the meetings.
In August, the Turkish Defense Ministry said the Greek fighters locked the radars of Turkish F-16s while escorting training flight. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 3 warned Greece that it would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to “harass” Turkish planes over the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.
“Hey Greece, take a look at history. If you go further, you will pay a heavy price,” Erdoğan said at Teknofest in the Black Sea province of Samsun.
Türkiye has complained of provocative actions by Athens in recent months, saying such moves undermine peace efforts.
Türkiye also says Greece is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of peace treaties signed after World Wars I and II.
Hurriyet Daily News