Sounding off with warnings to Greece to back off in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey continued to send fighter jets to violate Greek airspace and contesting sea borders while conducting energy research in disputed waters.
Tension has been building between the countries, as well as with Cyprus where Turkey had sent warships near the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and told foreign company Trying to keep other countries out, Turkey issued another NAVTEX to reserve an area in the Eastern Mediterranean through Jan. 5 for seismic research by the survey ship Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and two support vessels.
The area overlaps with a large part of the Greek continental shelf and a section of Cyprus’ EEZ with the possibility of lucrative oil and gas finds creating another catalyst in the interests of the three countries in the region.
On Jan. 3, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets flew over some of Greece’s easternmost islands of Farmakonisi and Panagia at an altitude of over 28,000 feet, the Hellenic National Defense General Staff said, without submitting a flight plan to the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) as required.
Taunted by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos mocked him and tweeted: “Mr Cavusoglu, thank you for your provocative New Year’s statements. It is my gift for doing my job well. Greece will continue this work, seeking peace, defending its sovereignty and building strong alliances. Nobody is afraid of you anymore.”
Cavusoglu had reportedly called Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are junior partners in a coalition led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA, a “spoiled brat” over the defense minister’s continuing verbal shots at Turkey.
“We have a warning for Greece. You have a spoiled brat you call your defense minister. Beware of your spoiled brat so that our armed forces do not get involved in possible accidents,” he was quoted as saying by the Turkish Minute news website, during a speech at the Turkish Gendarmerie and Coast Guard Academy.