US report fuels the fire in Aegean Sea

F-16 fighter jet. [Shutterstock/Pit Stock]

Despite growing pressure from both Washington and Brussels for a dialogue between Greece and Turkey, the situation doesn’t seem to improve. Turkey has decided to send again research vessel Oruc Reis accompanied by Turkish warships to the Eastern Mediterranean until 23 November.

Moreover, Turkish warplanes flew over Greek islands, a move which according to Athens breached its airspace.

But a US State Department report fuelled the fire, as it showed that Greece and US do not share the same view when it comes to Greece’s airspace.

Washington said Greece claims airspace extending up to 10 nautical miles from its coastline and up to 6 nautical miles from its territorial waters. The US said according to international law, a country’s airspace coincides with its territorial waters. Thus, the United States recognizes up to 6 nautical miles of Greek airspace, according to the territorial waters of Greece.

The reaction of leftist opposition in Greece was immediate saying the US report is a “catastrophic failure of the foreign policy of Kyriakos Mitsotakis government and a very serious blow to the country, national interests and Greek-American relations”.

The election of Joe Biden in the US has revived hopes in Athens that the new US administration will not show the tolerance of Donald Trump toward Turkey’s behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region.

At the same time, Greeks fear that Turkey will take advantage of the US leadership transition period and make “desperate moves” which could prove to be dangerous. (Sarantis Michalopoulos, EURACTIV.com)

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