Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

News from the Turkish Foreign Ministry

Statement Of The Spokesman Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of Turkey In Response To A Question , 31.01.2009

It will be recalled that on 23 May 2006, a Greek F-16 aircraft crashed into a Turkish F-16 aircraft from the rear bottom during its flight in the international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 35 nautical miles south off the island of Rhodes, causing the loss of both aircraft and the demise of the Greek pilot, while the Turkish pilot managed to eject safely. The Spokesman of our Ministry had made the necessary statements at that time.

As pointed out in the Ministry’s press statements, Greece not only presents the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), which solely entails technical responsibilities for civilian aircraft, as if it was Greek sovereign airspace in contravention of established international rules and procedures, but also conducts dangerous interception and harassment maneuvers against Turkish military aircraft lawfully using the international airspace.

In fact, the comprehensive report prepared concerning the 23 May 2006 incident has established Greece’s total responsibility in detail and through concrete evidence. The said report was shared with the Greek authorities while the Turkish side reserved its right to claim compensation. Our suggestion to Greece to hold a meeting with the participation of civilian and military experts from both countries has been left unanswered. The incident report was also brought to the attention of NATO.

And yet, to our great dismay and indignation, we learned that the Athens Three-Member Court passed a judgment against the Turkish pilot for wrongful death.

This judgment has no basis or any legal value whatsoever. It also shows how easily the law can be conveniently manipulated and the principle of fair trial can be violated with unilateral claims. It is only natural that all the required demarches will be made and the necessary measures will be taken in this regard.