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Greece rejects Turkey’s claim that Greek fighter jets ‘harassed’ research vessel

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The Turkish government accused Greece’s military on Tuesday of harassing a Turkish research vessel in the Aegean Sea and said Turkey’s military had responded to the alleged intimidation.

According to Turkish Defense Ministry officials, four Greek F-16 fighter jets harassed the TCG Cesme, west of the Greek island of Lemnos, with one of them dropping a type of flare used to deceive enemy radar 2 nautical miles from the vessel.

Turkey’s Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, told reporters that Turkey’s military retaliated, but he did not say how. He said the incident took place on Monday.

“It was an act of harassment, which our Greek neighbors carry out frequently,” Akar said. “We gave the necessary response in line with rules.”

Early Tuesday morning, sources inside the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) rejected these claims by Ankara.

The same sources told Ekathimerini that the Hellenic Air Force carried out an exercise involving 29 aircraft in the central Aegean Sea. 

They said an air space notice, or Notam, designating the area was issued on February 9, five days before Turkey’s illegal navigational warning (NAVTEX).

The Greek jets took off around 1.30pm and wrapped up the drill at 2.40pm the sources said. They were not carrying chaff or flares. 

More specifically, the training activity was taking place several miles southwest of the research vessel, between the islands of Agios Efstratios and Kyra Panagia. The closest the Greek plane came to Cesme was 10 nautical miles, the sources told Ekathimerini. It was flying at 19,000 feet. 

“Claims published in the Turkish media have nothing to do with reality,” the sources said.

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