Greece to protest harassment of Prime Minister’s helicopter

Greece’s Foreign Ministry is preparing to file a strongly-worded demarche disseminated towards the Turkish Embassy in Athens. The demarche will be given as a response to the harassment incident that Turkish fighter jets attempted on Monday. Turkish fighter jets attempted to harass the helicopter transporting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to the eastern Aegean island of Agathonisi.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras was on his way to the small island to commemorate the anniversary of Greece’s 1821 uprising against the Ottoman Empire.

Athens appears ready to highlight the incident, both in bilateral channels and internationally, especially after Ankara denied its occurrence.

Aerial Engagement

The incident unfolded when the Greek Prime Minister was onboard a Chinook helicopter. Suddenly, two Turkish F-4 fighters approached, violating Greek airspace and neared the helicopter to a distance of less four miles.

The Chinook helicopter flew lower to avoid the Turkish fighters. Eventually the Turkish F-4 were intercepted by a formation of Greek F-16 jets.

Prime Minister Tsipras referred to the incident at Agathonisi, claiming that

“Coming here, I was harassed by Turkish planes that forced the helicopter I was on to take evasive action and for what purpose?”

For his part, a Turkish security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was “no question” of any harassment attempt by Turkish jets, adding that the planes were carrying out “routine duties.”

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