During COVID-19 Contagion, Turkish Jets Violate Greek Airspace Again

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2013 file photo, Israeli air force technicians check an Israeli air force plane F-16 of the Red Dragon squadron at Ovda airbase near Eilat, southern Israel. Croatia's defense minister says Israel has failed to overcome U.S. objections to a plan to sell 12 used fighter jets to Croatia and the $500 million deal will likely be canceled. Damir Krsticevic spoke after a meeting with Israeli defense officials in Zagreb on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, file)

ATHENS – With most governments focused on fighting the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Turkey again sent fighter jets into Greek airspace, keeping up violations and adding to already growing anxiety that it could even bring a conflict.

Two pairs of Turkish fighter jets flew over the the islets of Anthropofagi and Makronisi, which are part of the Fournoi and Oinousses group, without first submitting a flight plan, said Kathimerini.

The first pair of F-16s entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without first submitting a flight plan and flew over the Greek islets at 10.31 a.m. at an altitude of 27,000 feet, according to the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) the paper said.

One minute later, a second pair of Turkish jets, which also entered the Athens FIR without submitting a flight plan, flew over the same two islets at 9,000 feet. At 10.54 a.m., the first pair of jets flew over Oinousses at 5,000 feet.

The Turkish jets were intercepted as usual by Greek fighter pilots tracking them with the encounters often leading to mock dogfights as NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong, said it will not intervene to stop the violations.

After pulling back thousands of refugees and migrants it sent to Greece’s northern border, Turkey is showing signs of new provocations, including sending energy research vessels off the island of Kastellorizo.

That came after Turkey earlier this year signed a maritime deal with Libya, dividing the seas between them and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying he would send a drill ship off Crete.

Kastellorizo is one of the Greek islands closest to the Turkish coast and seen as a likely target for a takeover if Turkey makes a military move at the same time Erdogan is pushing for oil and gas drilling in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, including off Cyprus.

The Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by two support ships and a frigate, sailed up to 50 nautical miles southeast of Kastellorizo in what Greece’s New Democracy sees as another test of the government’s resolve, said Kathimerini.

Turkey also issued a Navigational Telex (NAVTEX) reserving an area containing blocks 4 and 5 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with Greece closely watching at the same time monitoring the land border near the Evros River.

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