Turkish fighter jets harass Greek defence minister's helicopter

The mounting tensions between Turkey and its Greek neighbours took an alarming turn on Sunday when it was reported that Turkish fighter jets had harassed a helicopter carrying Greek Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

The Chinook helicopter carrying Panagiotopoulos was harassed as it flew from the islet of Oinousses to Agathonissi and Farmakonissi on Sunday, Greek Reporter said.

The Greek press agency Ana said two Turkish jets flew over the island at an altitude of 3,500 feet (1,000 metres) after their helicopter lifted off, and then buzzed a second Greek island, Agathonissi, at 1,700 feet.

The Greek foreign ministry “firmly condemned the harassment" and urged Turkey to respect established rules “like other countries in the region instead of systematically violating them".

Ankara has been locked in a bitter dispute with Athens and Nicosia over the island's exclusive economic zone and over drilling for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara objects to Cyprus and Greece’s gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean and says the northern Turkish Cypriot state should receive a fair share from gas resources of the disputed island.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into the predominantly Greek south, whose government is internationally recognised, and the Turkish north, whose sovereignty is only recognised by Ankara.