Helicopter carrying Greek Deputy Minister of Defense harassed by Turkey

A helicopter carrying Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias was harassed by Turkish authorities on the island of Agios Efstratios on Friday.

The helicopter was flying towards the island on Friday when the pilots heard over the radio: “You are flying in an area under the control of the Ankara FIR, change course immediately.”

The pilots ignored the message and continued flying towards a small island commonly known as “Ai Stratis” located in the north-central Aegean Sea, about 30 km southwest of Lemnos and 80 km northwest of Lesvos. Note that two days ago a Turkish plane flew over this island.

A similar incident occurred on February 12, when the helicopter carrying Nikos Hardalias was harassed by the Turkish authorities, who demanded that the pilots change course. The helicopter flew over the Greek islands of Kalolimnos and Pharmakonisi in the Dodecanese, in the eastern Aegean Sea.

Earlier today, Hardalias flew to the island of Agios Efstratios as a government representative to join the commemoration and pay tribute to Greek Air Force Lieutenant Nikolaos Sialmas. On June 18, 1992, he crashed on a Mirage fighter during the interception of Turkish fighters that violated Greek airspace.

Turkey disputes Greek sovereignty over the above islands and declares, among other things, that high-ranking Greek officials, from the President of the Hellenic Republic and below, should not visit them.

In this case, there were demands over the radio, but a few years earlier, a ship with the Minister of Defense not allowed to the island of Imiyawhen Panos Kammenos failed to land to lay a wreath in memory of the Greek Navy officers who died here in the 1996 conflict.

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