Turkey has made a new challenge, this time against the Greek Foreign Minister on Wednesday night after his return from Iraq.
Turkey held for 20 minutes in the air the plane that was transporting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias after his productive trip to Iraq.
The incident took place over the Turkish-Iraqi border, as Ankara refused to grant an overflight permit to the aircraft.
The Greek aircraft was returning from Baghdad to Athens and the pilots had normally received the required permits from the Turkish authorities.
After 20 minutes, the aircraft resumed its normal course in the airspace of Turkey to return to Athens.
Ankara however has categorically denied that it tried disturbing the Greek Foreign Minister.
The Greek embassy in Ankara was ordered to protest to the Turkish Foreign Ministry over yesterday’s incident with the government plane.
According to diplomatic sources quoted by Proto Thema, the Turkish side, on its own initiative, provided explanations to the Greek Embassy in Ankara, before the protest was made, attributing the incident to a technical error by Turkish air authorities.
However, in a recent statement, Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, changed Turkey’s story and said it was not true that Dendias’ plane was deliberately delayed.
Aksoy, one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened Greece with war, claimed that Turkey was supposedly interested in the safety of Dendias and refused entry initially because Greece had not submitted a flight plan.
“It simply came to our notice then. They had not submitted a flight plan. It was necessary for us to react in this way for the safety of the Greek minister,” Aksoy claimed.
Responding to the Turkish allegations, sources in the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that “of course a flight plan was submitted.”
For his part, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas, when asked about this during the briefing to journalists, said that “the necessary actions have been taken”, referring to another challenge.
“Various explanations were given from the Turkish side and we hope it will never be repeated in the future,” Petsas added, although this remains highly unlikely, especially as Turkey increases its war rhetoric against Greece in the East Mediterranean.
Despite Turkey’s provocations, it proved to be a fruitful trip for Dendias as he met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, and other officials.
This was the first trip a Greek Foreign Minister has made to Iraq in 22 years, and as reported by Greek City Times, the visits will become far more frequent now.
“A dialogue between two friendly states that can flourish on the solid basis of common commitment to peace and stability. To a common commitment to prosperity of our people. Our ties, as His Excellency mentioned, are historic. Greece has been a historic friend of Iraq. Greece has been a historic friend of the Arab world,” Dendias said during his statement alongside Hussein.
During the statement, he would also not hide away from highlighting Turkey’s aggression all across the region.
“I believe it is now more evident than ever that Turkey is acting as a disruptor of peace and stability in the greater region. Virtually, every crisis, and every problematic situation in the region, namely Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, Syria, Cyprus, South-Eastern Mediterranean, but also Iraq, has a common denominator: Turkey,” Dendias stressed.
Turkey certainly did not prove Dendias wrong by intentionally leaving the Greek aircraft waiting unnecessarily for 20 minutes before it could continue its flight back to Athens.
The Turkish military frequently violate Iraq’s sovereignty by conducting unauthorized airstrikes against Kurds, in which in some cases leads to Turkish airstrikes against the Iraqi military.