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Turkish F-16s buzz Greek passenger plane

June 9, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Today, two Turkish F-16s flew close to an Olympic Airways Boeing 717 in Greek airspace, triggering the crash avoidance alarm and prompting a protest by the Greek Foreign Ministry. The passenger plane (flight 321) was en route from Athens to Istanbul.
Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis condemned the incident saying it violated international airspace rules and put the safety of the aircraft at risk.

The harassment took place at an altitude of 29.000 feet, inside air corridor G-18, over the island of Psara. The captain was forced to change course immediately and move to a higher altitude.

Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, continuously accuse each other of violating national airspace over the Aegean sea. Fighter planes from both countries often taunt each other in mid-air standoffs.

The Turkish fighter jets do not recognize the Greek sovereign rights in the Aegean sky and refuse to present flight plans to the Greek authorities violating repeatedly the Greek FIR and national airspace.

Athens officially complained to the European Union over the increasing number of airspace violations by the Turkish air force.