As a delegation of Turkish military officials arrived in Athens to resume confidence-building measures, Turkish fighter jets on Monday conducted a total of 34 violations of Greece's airspace.
Four pairs of Turkish F-16 and a CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft entered the Athens Flight Information region (FIR) without having previously submitted a flight plan.
Despite the positive rhetoric emanating from the recent meeting between Greek and Turkish Defense Ministers Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Hulusi Akar in Brussels, Ankara has not backed down from its policy of exercising constant military pressure and raising diplomatic hurdles to the efforts for the launch of a dialogue between the two countries or even to improve channels of communication with Ath
Defence Minister Nikos Papagiotopoulos denied the public statement of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Athens agreed with Ankara not to approach the Imia islets on the anniversary of the 1996 dispute over their sovereignty brought the two countries to the brink of war.
Erdogan's remark triggered a political backlash in Athens.
Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis said on Thursday that Greece is maintaining dialogue with Turkey but that the country's armed forces are on standby.
"Diplomacy is the first choice," he told Skai radio. "We have open channels of communication but the armed forces are ready to do what is necessary in coordination with the Foreign Ministry," he added.
Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos has denied reports widely circulated in the Greek media on Thursday alleging that he had challenged claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding Imia islets.
A statement from the Defense Ministry said Panagiotopoulos "never made such a statement."
Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos rejected on Thursday claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he sent a message to Greece through Defense Minister Hulusi Akar not to make any "move" over the eastern Aegean islets of Imia, for which the two countries were brought to the brink of war twenty-four years ago.
Continuing a trend of provocative statements, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday indirectly disputed the status of the Imia islets in the Aegean Sea, over which Greece and Turkey nearly went to war in 1996, and of other islands too ahead of a telephone conversation between the two countries' defense ministers.