Dogfights and double standards: How many times did Turkey violate Greek airspace?

A number of Greeks took to social media following Turkey’s downing of the Su-24 Russian jet, pondering hypothetical questions as to what would happen if Greece had shot down a Turkish plane for doing just what the Russian jet had done. After all, the Turkish air force isn’t a stickler for detail when it comes to violating Greek airspace. Numbers from the University of Thessaly point to a total of 2,244 violations in 2014 – an increase from just 636 in 2013.

Below is the chart compiled by Politico based on University of Thessaly data:

Media attention may have been cast on the Turkish military frigate, “Gelibolu”, that went on “patrol” in Greek territorial waters. However, these patrols are commonplace when it comes to Turkish breaches of Greek territorial rights.


“The data we have is very clear. There were two planes approaching our border, we warned them as they were getting too close,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters following the downing of the Russian jet. “Our findings show clearly that Turkish air space was violated multiple times. And they violated it knowingly.”

This statement shows that Turkey has a double standard with regular dogfights over the Aegean. Greek finances have merely encouraged the neighbor to act in outright contempt of Greek air space. The Turkish General Staff has not given an official reason for its increased air (or sea) activity in Greece. Turkey knows that every Hellenic Air Force scramble costs Greece precious euros.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos in May proposed building a NATO base on one of the Aegean islands so that NATO could “gain a full overview of Turkey’s behavior in the region.”

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