25 May, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called on Turkey to "seriously reconsider" its attitude and actions, following Tuesday's collision between Greek and Turkish fighter jets above the Aegean.
"Yesterday's incident should make the neighboring country think seriously, so as to finally revise its stance, abandoning once and for all practices and behaviors that are not compatible with good neighborly relations and which are factored into assessments of its European course," he stressed.
The two aircraft collided in the air above the Aegean on Tuesday, about 21 miles south-southeast of the island of Karpathos, when the Greek Airforce plane engaged in maneuvers to identify a formation of Turkish planes that had entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans to Greek authorities.
The pilot of the Turkish F-16 was rescued shortly afterward but a search-and-rescue operation has so far discovered only the helmet and survival kit of missing Greek pilot Constantine Iliakis, father of two.
Stressing that the Greek government had taken all necessary steps in response to the incident, Karamanlis once again underlined that everything was taken into account in assessing Turkey's progress toward EU accession.
He reiterated that statement when asked if Greece would consent to Turkey's continued EU progress in October if the neighboring country continued its present tactics of frequent violations of Greek airspace and infringements of the Athens' Flight Information Region (FIR).
"Greece defends its national interests and its sovereign rights," the Greek premier said, noting that Athens' handling of the incident on all levels demonstrated "the responsible and serious way that the government and Greek authorities handle sensitive foreign and defense policy issues".
He also expressed his support for the family of the Greek Airforce pilot that is still missing and said that he had not contacted his Turkish counterpart since the accident.
The Greek premier said that he had fully briefed French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin regarding the incident during a meeting earlier on Wednesday. Asked about his talks with Villepin over the Cyprus issue, meanwhile, Karamanlis said that he had ascertained a desire to resolve the problem and noted that the Cyprus government was determined to help.
At the same time, he again emphasized the need to carefully prepare all initiatives for the Cyprus problem in order to avoid another failure and arrive at a viable solution.
Karamanlis was in Paris to chair the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council that began here on Tuesday.
Source: Athens News Agency