ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey summoned the Greek military attache and filed a complaint with NATO after Greek fighter jets allegedly harassed Turkish fighter jets that were conducting an “important mission” for the military alliance, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Tuesday.
The Anadolu Agency said F-16s belonging to Greece harassed Turkish pilots flying the same model by putting Turkey’s aircraft under a radar lock during the NATO mission over the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey “gave the necessary response” and forced the planes to leave the area, Anadolu said, without elaborating.
Anadolu said Turkey’s defense ministry notified NATO officials about the alleged harassment and summoned the Greek military official in Ankara, accusing Greece of endangering a NATO mission.
Greece rejected the Turkish version of events. The Defense Ministry said five Turkish jets appeared without prior notification to accompany a flight of U.S. B-52 bombers — which hadn’t been due to have a fighter escort — through an area subject to Greek flight control.
It said four Greek fighters were scrambled and chased off the armed Turkish planes, adding that Athens informed NATO and U.S. authorities of the incident.
Greece also accused Turkey of 78 violations of Greek airspace Tuesday with 23 planes, 15 of which were armed.
Although both NATO members, Turkey and Greece have decades-old disputes over an array of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and disputes over the airspace there. The disputes have brought them to the brink of war three times in the last half-century.
Tensions flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones, leading to a naval standoff.
Turkey has accused Greece of violating international agreements by militarizing islands in the Aegean Sea. Athens says it needs to defend the islands — many of which lie close to Turkey’s coast — against a potential attack from Turkey’s large fleet of military landing craft.