November 4, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - It seems that the Turkish provocation in the Aegean might be escalating again. This morning, two Turkish F-16 reportedly harassed an Olympic Airlines passenger plane en route from the island of Karpathos to the island of Rhodes in southeastern Aegean.
According to the Greek press, the Turkish F-16 fighter jets came as close as 1,000 feet to the Greek passenger plane at 9:30h. Fortunately, this event did not cause any problems for the passengers.
The Greek national defence ministry also reported a formation of three Turkish F-16 jet fighters who infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) and violated Greek national airspace two miles west of Kastellorizo island on Tuesday morning.
At the same time, a Turkish jet buzzed a Greek army AB 205 helicopter returning from Kastellorizo to the island of Rhodes. The helicopter landed safely on Rhodes though.
Other press reports stated that six formations of Turkish aircraft entered the Aegean area on Tuesday without submitting flight plans and violated national air space on six occasions in the region of the central and southern Aegean.
In all cases, the 13 Turkish aircraft were recognised and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in two cases the interception process developed into a mock dogfight.
Two of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
Further, the National Defence General Staff announced that an unidentified helicopter, possibly belonging to the Turkish Coastguard, flew over the eastern islet of Imia on Monday, at an altitude of 100 metres. Its flight over Greek territorial waters was tracked by radars and it lasted for 30 seconds.
Defence Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said that everything is being watched very closely.
In Ankara, the Turkish army's deputy chief of staff, Ilker Basbug, said Greek complaints of intensive Turkish military activities in the Aegean and around Imia do not reflect the realities.