Tensions continue to escalate between Athens and Ankara

Tensions have continued to escalate between Athens and Ankara with a recent spike in violations of Greece’s air space and territorial waters by Turkish ships and jets.

The latest incident took place on Friday when a Turkish coastal patrol boat fired live ammunition while a military exercise was being undertaken in Greek territorial waters in the eastern Aegean; an act that Athens is viewing as a test of its resolve.

According to a report by Kathimerini, the violations appear to have developed into a trend as of January 29, when a Turkish gunboat sailed around the Aegean islets of Imia, whose sovereignty is disputed by Ankara, while carrying Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar.

Since then, Turkish patrol boats have been monitored moving around several islets in the area, including Panaghia and Farmakonisi both of which have a permanent Greek guard.

Meanwhile, Turkish fighter jets have continued to fly overhead, leading to mock dog fights with Greek air force pilots.

Analysts believe the trend is attributed to a constitutional referendum that has been called by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to increase his executive powers.

Set to take place on April 16, based on the polls, analysts have suggested that the Turkish president is increasing nationalistic rhetoric.

If the referendum is in his favour, critics say it will concentrate even more power in the hands of a leader that they accuse of authoritarian behaviour, and would potentially allow President Erdogan to remain in power until 2029.

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