In 32 years Turkey overturned the status quo in the Aegean and succeeded in bringing NATO decisions against our interests.
By Kira Adam - source
According to published figures by the Ministry of Defence as well as the Turkish General Staff, the analogy of Turkish to Greek aircraft flying over the Aegean is approximately 9 to 1. In 2009 there were 593 incursions into the Athens FIT, 980 violations of Greek airspace and 236 dogfights. In 2010 the dogfights have been reduced to 14.
These figures mean that daily there are about 16 to 40 Turkish aircraft overflying the Aegean wile only 2 to 4 Greek aircraft are scrambled to intercept them. The interceptors avoid approaching the Turkish aircraft too closely. No wonder there are hardly any dogfights to speak of.
Today’s analogy of flights over the Aegean is exactly the opposite of what it was in 1978, the year the first exploratory meeting was held between the two general secretaries from the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
In 1978 the Turkish side claimed that Greece’s position was hostile and constituted a threat towards Turkey, all because Greece conducted 95% of the flights over the Aegean and Turkey only 5%.
The Turkish Effort
From then until now the Turkish effort to solidify perceived sovereign and economic rights in the Aegean by performing flights over the sea has been steadfast and independent of government or ruling political party.
As time has gone by, and as Greek positions were neither improved nor updated, many Greek sovereign rights are tending to become Turkish gains.
The huge volume of official documents that now exists clearly depicts the relationship between the Turkish flights over the Aegean and Turkish policies and diplomacy regarding the Aegean.
The 5% of Turkish flights over the Aegean in 1978 went up fivefold in 1979 to 25%. Turkish flights in 1979 for the first time reached the Kalogeroi Islets (north of Andros Island) and were aimed at establishing the area east of the 25th meridian under Turkish control. With these flights Turkey sought to establish rights in the Aegean.
At the same time Greece accepted the Hamburg Treaty of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with some very difficult results for the Greek side. The Treaty (articles 2.1.4 and 2.1.5) imposed on Greece and Turkey that they should agree (something which would never happen) the areas of jurisdiction for search and rescue. In the absence of an agreement, each it was up to each country to set its own area of jurisdiction. This paved the way for Turkey, which knew there would never be an agreement, to start intensive flight operations over the Aegean up to the 25th meridian in order to strengthen the practice of controlling half the Aegean.
On top of that, in 2001 the Turkish parliament passed law 24611 with which it unilaterally declared half the Aegean as falling under Turkish jurisdiction for search and rescue purposes. Greece did not react.
From 1979 until the end of 1995 the share of Turkish flights over the Aegean remained at 25% and the Greek ones at 75%.
From December 1995 there was an unusually large and violent Turkish upsurge in aerial activity, with dozens of over flights over Greek islands and daily dogfights, which resulted in teh share of each country’s flights over the Aegean reaching 50%.
The artificial crisis at Imia
Even though the Turkish aim was clear and was aimed at preventing Greece from extending its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and to nullify the Greek continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), no Greek government took adequate steps to intercept these Turkish provocations.
In December of 1995 the Greek parliament ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS).
One month after this vote Turkey provoked the artificial crisi at Imia. The same year Turkey raised the grey zones issue, claiming that over 80 islands, islets and rocks do not belong to Greece. This position is still being held on to today with Turkish over flights over these islands.
The equal share of 50% in flights over the Aegean lasted from 1995 to 2006 when Turkish flights suddenly reached 75%. From August 2006 Greek flights were reduced to 25%.
One of the causes of this was Turkey’s success in getting NATO to issue an order with which it prohibits Greek fighter aircraft to overfly Greek islands which are located east of the 25th meridian.
Today Greek flights over the Aegean have dropped to 10% of the total and Turkish flights are now at 90%.
From 1996 until today the Greek side has done nothing more that issue demarches and complaints towards Turkey regarding Turkish over flights of Greek islands. In other words Greece is using means which in no way safeguard Greek interests and sovereign rights in practice and hesitates to use more powerful diplomatic means, such as bringing the issue to the UN.
Each demarche by Athens to Ankara is answered by Turkey claiming that no over flight took place of any island which has been ceded to Greece by international treaty...