“NATO is informed”
Overflights of Turkish fighter jets provoke Athens
May 20, 2022, 6:57 p.m.
With a threat to veto Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership, Ankara is putting its allies to the test. Athens is now alerting the alliance: Turkish fighter planes have entered the Greek military port of Alexandroupolis without authorization.
Two Turkish warplanes have entered Greek airspace and are within 2.5 kilometers of the port city of Alexandroupolis in the northeast of the country. The Foreign Ministry in Athens spoke of an “unprecedented violation of national sovereignty”. This is a “very clear escalation of Turkish provocations”.
The fact that Turkish bombers violate Greek airspace and even fly over populated areas has happened almost every day. What is new, however, is that they are heading for the port of Alexandroupolis. The US military maintains a base there through which military equipment can be transported overland to the Ukrainian border within hours. US-Greek cooperation is a thorn in Ankara’s side – thus the US avoids the sea route via the Dardanelles Strait and the Bosphorus.
This action undermines NATO cohesion and priorities and poses a clear threat to the EU, as the port of Alexandroupoli is a key transport hub for the allies, the Greek Foreign Ministry said. Athens lodged a protest with the Turkish ambassador; the EU, NATO and the United Nations (UN) have also been informed.
Ankara’s motives are unclear; So far, overflights by Turkish fighter jets have been seen as a way to challenge the sovereignty of the Greek islands. However, Ankara’s veto on Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership is now also in the air.
The Ankara government has raised security concerns over the two countries’ alleged support for the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria. “We cannot say yes to the acceptance of such a terrorist organization in NATO,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. Once again, he accused Finland, Sweden, but also Germany and other European countries of not taking decisive action against “terrorist organisations”.