24 May, 2006
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, commenting on the collision between a Greek and a Turkish fighter plane over the Aegean on Tuesday, expressed his regret over the accident and said that the governments of the two countries are handling the issue.
McCormack avoided going into details of the event, stressing that he does not have a clear picture of what exactly happened and saying that he hoped the two countries will cooperate with the aim of avoiding similar events in the future.
"We don't have all the facts, but according to the first indications it appears to be a sad accident," he said.
"I understand that a Greek pilot is missing and that a Turkish pilot was rescued. Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the two pilots, as well as with the families of the people involved. I think that the Greek and the Turkish governments are in contact as regards the event. And, of course, we hope that they will resolve whatever issues possibly exist on this event, so that we shall not see something similar again," he added.
Asked to comment on the fact that the Turkish aircraft was flying within the limits of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), McCormack said "I will not hurry into conclusions on whether the one aircraft was in the air space of the other or not. These are issues that must be ascertained. I don't have all the facts. Look, the Aegean is a small region and we are all aware of the differences existing between Greece and Turkey on this issue. So, what we would like to see is these two NATO allies cooperating so that such accidents are not repeated. When these take place it is sad. Nobody wants to see such a thing happening. And what we are hoping for and what we would encourage is that the two countries will cooperate so that it does not happen again."
Asked further whether a detailed report of what happened would be useful, the spokesman said "of course, one wants to know this for two reasons: First, to have the facts and realize what exactly happened and, second, to be possibly taught by them (the facts) about what happened, what could have happened which led to this accident so that it will not happen again."
Lastly, asked whether the U.S. government contacted the sides involved, McCormack requested relevant information from his assistant and, after being informed, said that there had been contact at embassy level.
"Our embassies communicated with the two governments," he said.
Source: Athens News Agency