Turkish state media Anadolu has accused the Greek military of carrying out a “hostile action” on August 23rd, referring to sources in the Defense Ministry. This is the latest of several claims by Turkey that Greece is acting aggressively.
Apparently, a Cretan base used its Russian-made S-300 missile system’s radar to get a lock on Turkish F-16 jets that were, according to the Turkish outlet, flying in international airspace, at 3,000 meters of altitude. Locking onto an aircraft in this way is classed as a hostile action under NATO rules.
For their part, Greek television ERT claimed the Turkish complaint was baseless, citing the country’s Defense Ministry.
The Greek Defense Ministry has apparently notified NATO and the U.S. of the incident, providing a different chain of events to that claimed by Turkey. According to their version, Greek authorities were alerted to the presence of U.S. B-52 bombers, but not their accompaniment by the Turkish jets, of whose presence Greece was never notified. Four Greek jets were therefore deployed to repel the Turkish ones, which they succeeded in doing.
It seems likely that tensions will continue to rise, anchored in historic and ongoing territorial disputes, and spurred on by the presence of energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. It is now particularly important since only one of the two will host a natural gas pipeline from Israel to service the rest of Europe.