Turkish and Greek fighter jets have faced off over the eastern Mediterranean, the second direct confrontation between the two NATO members this month. Turkey’s air force scrambled several F-16 fighter jets to intercept six Greek F-16s as they approached the region in the Eastern Mediterranean where Turkey has issued a maritime Navtex alert notice, the country’s National Defence Ministry stated.
According to the Turkish defence ministry statement issued on August 27, the Turkish Air Forces’ radar systems detected six F-16 fighter jets taking off from Greece’s Crete Island and subsequently heading towards Southern Cyprus. The Greek aircraft were intercepted as they were approaching the area where Turkey had previously issued a Navtex alert, located to the southwest of Cyprus Island, and forced them to change course away from the area.
Navtex or Navigational Telex is a maritime communications system by way of which ships can inform other vessels about their presence and activities in a specified area. Turkey resumed energy exploration earlier this month in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.
On Thursday Turkey issued a new Navtex alert announcing a second four-day extension to the energy exploration of its seismic research vessel, the MTA Oruc Reis, in the Eastern Mediterranean, which Turkey had previously announced would conduct research in the region until August 23.
Turkish media stated of the latest developments:
“Greece and other countries have tried to box in Turkey’s maritime territory and energy exploration rights… Turkey has consistently opposed Greek efforts to declare a huge exclusive economic zone, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
Ankara has also said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) — which has issued Turkish state oil company Turkish Petroleum a license — and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.”
The Turkish Ministry of Defence subsequently published a video of the incident.
According to Greece’s Defence Ministry, the Turkish air force sent an unspecified number of F-16s to intercept six Greek figher jets, also F-16s as they were returning from Cyprus — where they had been participating in war games — to their base in Crete. The Greek aircraft called for back-up at 11.30am yesterday, and then “proceeded to the immediate recognition and interception of the Turkish aircraft”.
Earlier this month a Greek frigate clipped a Turkish navy ship during war games
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