A Greek fighter jet crashed into the sea in Skyros in the Aegean at around 3.30pm today and the 34-year-old pilot died in the tragic incident, said Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Twitter, without confirming the cause of the crash.
In a pointed statement, the minister stated that Captain Giorgos Baltadoros died in defense of his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The jet was one of two on its way to intercept Turkish jets in the Aegean, reports eKathimerini.
The Greek military has heightened maritime border patrols in the last month. New orders were given to fire warning shots if Turkey intrudes into Greece’s FIR. In recent days, the Greek military fired at a Turkish helicopter which flew over and around the island of Ro in direct contravention of Greece’s sovereignty. Another five incursions into Greece’s FIR followed.
While the cause of the crash hasn’t been officially confirmed, the fear is that it was shot down by the Turkish navy or airforce.
Other regional tensions are rising in parallel to those between Greece and Turkey. The US and UK are building up arms in the Eastern Mediterranean and surrounding Syria following a reported chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma. Over 700,000 Syrians have been displaced in continued violence since the beginning of the year, said the head of OCHR Panos Moumtzis. It is clear that the truce guaranteed by Russia and Turkey is disintegrating once more into all-out war on civilians. In response to Western Allies anger over the escalating violence in Syria, Russian premier Vladimir Putin warned that any missiles fired into Syria would be shot down.
The connection between the situations in Greece and Syria is that Turkey has become emboldened by NATO’s backing of its guarantorship of Syria’s peace process. To a country with its history of human rights abuses, all this means is that it has more power to exercise at will – at the cost of human lives. To the power-hungry and likely mentally-unbalanced Erdogan, increased power in Syria means he can reinforce his power along the border with Greece as well with impunity. It hardly needs to be pointed out that Cyprus’ situation as a country occupied by Turkey is even more precarious.
More updates as we get them.