Greek-Turkish Relations
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Ankara "cuts" the Aegean in two with an illegal NOTAM: "Sending a flight to the international FIR of Athens"

There are many smiles in the photos of the meeting of both Nikos Dendias with Tsavousoglou and Kostas Fragogiannis with his counterpart, but also especially in Athens, which is looking for ways to lower the bar of the shield against Turkish aggression.

It is a fact that the Turkish flight activity in the Aegean has been zero for the last period of time and that a large part of the Turkish fleet is in the area of Alexandretta in order to assist in the relief efforts of the earthquake victims.

However, Turkey's revisionist doctrine does not change, and this is also evident from moves at the level of directives to seafarers and airmen.

Turkey, confirming that the phraseology may not refer to occupations of Greek islands or arrivals during the night, but in practice nothing has changed, proceeded last night to issue the illegal NOTAM A1968/23. We say illegal because it refers to binding areas within the Athens FIR where Ankara has no jurisdiction.

With this directive to fliers, Turkey "informs" that it will carry out from March 24 to April 18 the "Dispatch flight in international waters within the Athens FIR".

In this context, Turkey has committed 5 areas and 6 corridors from which it asks all those who will be in the wider area to keep distances of at least one nautical mile.

We do not know if those responsible for the creation of this NOTAM forgot and put this title to clearly give the international community to understand that it is a mission and not random flights and exercises but in any case what one sees is that with these areas Ankara "cuts" the Aegean in two for almost a month without having any jurisdiction, thus continuing the questioning of Greek sovereign rights.

Athens FIR

On December 7, 1944, the Convention on International Civil Aviation was signed in Chicago, which provided for the establishment of an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO, with regional Air Navigation Agreements, established the limits of the areas of responsibility of each of its member states for the control of the airspace (Flight Information Region-FIR). The Athens FIR was demarcated in the context of the European regional air navigation conferences of 1950, 1952 and 1958.

The Athens FIR covers the Greek national airspace and additionally scattered parts of the international airspace, given that it does not concern issues of sovereignty, but of jurisdiction.

Turkey was present at the above conferences from the beginning and accepted the definition of the airspace for which Greece was designated responsible.

In accordance with ICAO rules and international practice, Greece requires, for civil flight safety reasons, that all aircraft, civil and military, submit flight plans before entering the Athens FIR.

Nevertheless, in August 1974, Turkey arbitrarily issued NOTAM 714 ("notice to airmen") attempting to extend its area of jurisdiction to the middle of the Aegean within the Athens FIR. Greece then declared the Aegean a dangerous area (NOTAM 1157). ICAO appealed to both sides without success. Finally, Ankara, in 1980, again unilaterally, revoked NOTAM 714 when it found that the measure harmed its interests and especially its tourism.

However, Turkey since then, arguing that the Chicago Convention does not apply to state aircraft, has consistently refused to submit flight plans for its military aircraft entries into the Athens FIR, thus committing numerous violations of the Air Traffic Rules and creating risks to the safety of civil aviation.

In this context, the Hellenic Air Force is forced to carry out procedures to identify unknown aircraft traces to the competent air traffic authorities, which have entered the Athens FIR without having submitted a flight plan.


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