Greece’s prime minister says Turkish fighter jets harassed the helicopter he was traveling in during a visit to a remote Greek island to celebrate Independence Day.
Alexis Tsipras said he was “welcomed” by Turkish fighter jets violating Greek airspace during his arrival Monday on the small eastern Aegean island of Agathonissi.
The move forced the helicopter pilot to carry out low maneuvers until Greek fighter jets arrived to deflect the Turkish aircraft, Tsipras said.
Greece and Turkey have long had tense relations and are divided over several issues, including territorial disputes in the Aegean. Athens often complains Turkish fighter jets violate its airspace.
Tsipras stressed Greece is committed to dialogue and cooperation with Turkey, but that if necessary “we will do what our ancestors taught us, to defend our country.”
The prime minister had arrived on the island to watch the parade for the March 25 national holiday celebrating Greece’s 1821 revolution to shake off Ottoman rule.
“On this day we feel pride for the courage and our ancestors’ unquenchable thirst to throw off the yoke of the conqueror, which laid the foundation stone for our national rebirth. We feel pride in the great ideals of the Revolution of 1821,” he said.
PM @tsipras_eu from Agathonissi for #GreekIndependenceDay: 'There is no part of #Greece we will not protect and defend' (click link for video). Message to Turkey over incident with PM's helicopter – "foolish actions that are pointless and waste kerosene"https://t.co/9U8YUnYZeE pic.twitter.com/teM6blOjN5
— ANA-MPA news (@amna_newseng) March 25, 2019