24 May, 2007
A plaque bearing the name of fallen Greek Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis, who died a year ago in a mid-air collision with a Turkish warplane above the Aegean, was unveiled on the Greek island of Karpathos by National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday.
The Greek pilot had been attempting to intercept a formation of Turkish fighter jets that had entered Greece's flight information region about 15 miles southeast of Karpathos without submitting flight plans - a regular occurrence in skies above the Aegean Sea.
Also present during the ceremony were main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and the family of the fallen pilot.
In his address, Meimarakis underlined that Greece "works for peace, stability and the reduction of tension in the Aegean, something that Turkey should do as well".
He asked Turkey to put a stop to its practice of regularly violating air traffic regulations above the Aegean and to work for the region's security and the prospect of its accession to the EU.
Tension in the Aegean helped no one, while intransigency and threats brought no benefits, the minister underlined.
Papandreou's remarks at the ceremony underlined the need to provide material and moral support to the Greek Armed Forces and to forge a national strategy that brought peace and security but also guaranteed Greece's territorial rights and its just national causes.
In comments on Iliakis, meanwhile, Papandreou quoted a phrase by the early 20th-century Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos, who had said that "freedom is not offered but won".
There followed the unveiling of a plaque at the head of a central road of the island's capital, while a pair of Greek Air Force fighter jets flew over the island in formation during the ceremony.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis reiterated on Wednesday the guidelines of Greece's policy regarding Greek-Turkish relations while addressing an event on the Dodecanese island of Karpathos, during which a plaque bearing the name of fallen Greek Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis, who died a year ago in a mid-air collision with a Turkish warplane above the Aegean, was unveiled.
"Our steadfast goal is to have good neighbourly relations with Turkey, on the basis of absolute respect of International Law and international treaties," Valinakis said.
"We also encourage Turkey's European adaptation in order for her to become a reliable neighbour. Nevertheless, this policy of ours is not a 'blank cheque' towards Turkey. It depends on Turkey itself to respond to commitments it has undertaken, if it really wishes to advance. It's up to Turkey to change its way of thinking, to change its approach. It is its responsibility to keep pace with the demands of the future. Our responsibility lies in the readiness and decisiveness for the effective defence of our national interests and sovereign rights," the deputy minister concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency