January 12, 1998 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Greek fighters on Tuesday intercepted about 16 Turkish jets that violated Greek airspace over the Aegean Sea and flew close to a helicopter carrying Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, government officials said.
"Two Turkish F-16's flew about 10, 000 feet above the helicopter carrying the defense minister and journalists from Lesbos to the nearby island of Psara. They were intercepted by four of our fighters and eventually backed off, " one official told. Turkey
has repeatedly denied that it violates Greek airspace saying its jets fly over international airspace.
Tension between traditional rivals Greece
and Turkey has risen recently following a European Union rebuff to Ankara's hopes for EU membership. The two NATO
members are at odds over territorial rights in the Aegean, Ankara's unsuccessful efforts towards Europe and the EU's decision to hold membership talks with the divided island of Cyprus.