Turkish violations of Greek airspace, territorial waters surged in 2019

Turkey's violation of Greek airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea sharply increased in 2019, especially over the last months of the year, Greek Reporter news site said on Monday, citing a report by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.

"The number of violations of Greek national airspace by Turkish military aircraft reached 4,811 in 2019, the largest number in one calendar year since 1987. There were 384 mock dogfights between Greek and Turkish fighter jets last year, while there were only 13 such fights in 2010," the report said.

Turkey is at odds with Greece and Cyprus over potentially rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions have increased since Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding with the internationally recognised government of Libya on Nov. 27 that sees Turkey and Libya as maritime neighbours. Greece says the deal ignores territorial waters around several of its islands.

Turkey has been increasingly flexing its military muscles in the Aegean Sea since last year, especially after signing the maritime deal with Libya, according to Greek Reporter.

Turkish aircraft flew over Greek islands a total of 20 times on the day the maritime deal was struck, the news site said.

"It is indicative of this problem that Turkish fighter jets flew 44 times over Greek islands in the month of December of 2019, when they did so 47 times during the entirety of 2018," it said.