Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Air Violations and Tension around Imia

DefenceNet reports that today several Turkish fishing boats were expelled from Greek waters around Imia, signalling a harder stance from the Greek side with regards to illegal fishing by Turkish fishermen in Greek waters. The result is that currently in the wider area there is only one Turkish fishing boat operating in the wider area and in Turkish waters.

A Turkish CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft was also found to be operating in the area but it is believed this was in the framework of the ongoing Turkish exercises East of Rhodes Island. Turkish military helicopters were also sighted south of Imia.

The Turkish fishing boats approached Imia this morning but Greek Coast Guard patrol boats intervened warning the Turkish boats that they were operating in Greek territorial waters and would be subject to Greek law if they did not leave the area. In some situations Turkish fishing boats and Greek patrol boats got very close, at which time a Turkish Coast Guard vessel appeared in the area. The Turkish Coast Guard vessel did not interfere and at this stage it continues to monitor the area from within Turkish territorial waters.

Large Turkish naval forces are present in the wider area due to the large live fire exercise which will continue tomorrow.

Today 10 Turkish F-16 entered the Aegean, operating from Bandirma and Balikeshir airbases. 6 of these entered the Aegean area between Chios and Samos and breached Greek airspace on 3 occasions. The other 4 aircraft entered between Lesbos and Limnos and breached Greek airspace 4 times.

Imia sees a concentration of fishing vessels this time each year. In previous years it was almost impossible for Greek fishermen to work there due to harassment from the Turkish Coast Guard.

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