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Tensions over the Aegean


March 2016

Turkish warplanes repeatedly entered Greek airspace last week, as NATO prepared to deploy ships to the Aegean Sea saying they are doing so to stop smugglers bringing in large numbers of refugees.

Six warplanes and a navy transport plane had carried out over 20 violations of Greek national airspace near eastern and central Aegean islands.

Two of the planes were armed and mock dogfights occurred on two occasions when Greek fighters moved to intercept, the agency said. No live rounds were exchanged.

The incident occurred as NATO war ships enter and claim control of the waters between the two countries, claiming they are doing so to deter people-smugglers facilitating the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants into Europe.

Albeit NATO allies, Greece and Turkey have a fraught history going back centuries and remain at loggerheads over territorial and airspace rights in the Aegean.

Athens fears that Ankara could exploit the refugee crisis to strengthen its presence in the Aegean, where it claims the waters and airspace surrounding many Greek islands near its coastline.

Greece and Turkey nearly went to war over a cluster of uninhabited Aegean Sea islets in 1996.

Athens has said it is keen to work with Turkey on stamping out people-smuggling networks, but it wants Ankara to apply a bilateral agreement on migrant re-admission which is currently all but inactive.

Thousands of migrants are still crossing the Aegean daily from Turkey - with many dying in the attempt - after over a million made the perilous journey last year.

In the meantime, the situation near the Turkish - Syrian border is deteriorating. According to reports from the region, Syrian Kurds, supported by the Russian air force are defeating the ISIS terrorists on the Syrian - Turkish border. Turkey on the other hand, instead of supporting the fight against the terrorists they are using their artillery against the Kurds positions trying desperately to keep them away from its borders.

Tensions between Turkey and Russia are also escalating and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the deployment of foreign ground troops in the Syrian conflict could result in a world war.

It has also been reported that there is an increased military movement at the brittish bases in Cyprus.


Greek Tribune



The Cyprus
 News Agency


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