By Nikos Hasapopoulos

On 29 August the number of dogfights between Turkish and Greek warplanes reached a record level of 19.

Turkish warplanes that had violated Greece’s airspace were confronted by Greek warplanes and engaged in dog fights after the Turkish planes refused to leave the Athens FIR after being chased.

Resounding alarm bells in the Aegean (then the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers) that there would be a moratorium on military activity in the Aegean in the summer and during the religious holidays on both sides.

What happened on 29 August was hitherto inconceivable as here we are not speaking merely of violations of national airspace or of air flight rules, but rather about dogfights during which Greek fighter pilots locked on to invading Turkish planes.

At the same Ankara dispatched a naval cooperation helicopter plane designed for electronic warfare to the Aegean and it flew through the Athens FIR, where Greece manages air traffic, and also repeatedly violated Greece’s national airspace.

Turkey pursues dangerous escalation

All this combined with Turkish claims on Greek islands which Turkey has put on a map of what it calls the “azure (sea) fatherland”, the declared efforts to bring Turkish settlers to the barb-wired ghost city of Famagusta, Turkey’s new occupation of a significant portion of the dead-man’s-land that separates free Cyprus from the Turkish-occupied north since 1974, and the massive deportation of refugees from Turkey to Cyprus’ shores means that Ankara is prepared to ratchet up tension to dangerous Levels.

PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan are due to discuss these crucial issues on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month.

Undeclared war

From 1987 until today Turkey has sent 60,000 warplanes to scout the Aegean.

Most of these were equipped air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

All of these were recognised in a timely manner and confronted successfully by the Hellenic Air Force.

The numbers are truly amazing and unique globally if one considers the number of lives that were lost over the Aegean over the past decades in an undeclared war.

If one considers the monetary cost of these chases and dogfights over the years, one wonders what Turkey actually has gained by disputing Greece’s sovereign rights.