NATO Distances Itself from Greek-Turkish Tensions in Aegean

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (file photo)

NATO’s leadership has distanced itself from tensions in the Aegean, with its secretary-general telling Turkish media “this is something that has to be addressed between Turkey and Greece”.

Jens Stoltenberg told Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency that although both Turkey and Greece had been “two highly valued NATO allies” since 1952, it was up to Ankara and Athens to deal with their differences bilaterally.

His remarks come a day after a Hellenic Air Force pilot was laid to rest, having been killed in a jet crash over the Aegean responding to a reported Turkish incursion into Greek airspace.

Thirty-four-year-old Baltadoros, a father of two, was one of two Mirage pilots who departed from Skyros air force base in the Aegean to intercept a pair of Turkish F-16s that violated Greek airspace between the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Chios.

His plane crashed as it was returning to base.

Stoltenberg told Anadolu:

“[Greece and Turkey] contribute to our collective defense. I expect that the differences we see on some issues are solved between Turkey and Greece in the spirit of good relations.

“In this context, I welcome that the PMs of both countries have recently held a phone conversation and that they have agreed to resolve these differences through dialogue.”