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Greece protests to Turkey over sorties in Aegean

Greece said Tuesday it had protested to NATO ally Turkey over fighter jet sorties, saying Turkish planes had put in danger a civilian flight over the populated Aegean islands.
/ Source: Reuters

Greece said Tuesday it had protested to NATO ally Turkey over fighter jet sorties, saying Turkish planes had put in danger a civilian flight over the populated Aegean islands.

Greek Defense Ministry officials told Reuters that eight Turkish fighter jets had violated Greek airspace Sunday flying close to an Olympic Airlines plane carrying 49 passengers from the island of Rhodes to the island of Lesvos.

"The Greek embassy in Ankara issued yesterday a demarche emphasizing our great disturbance and deep concern over Turkey's behavior," the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement, without confirming the name of the company.

Long at odds over the divided island of Cyprus and territorial matters, Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war as recently as 1996 over a deserted Aegean islet, but bilateral ties and trade relations have eased considerably over the past decade.

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni had said in June Turkish jet sorties had increased tensions between the two Aegean neighbors, but later that month agreed to a visit to Ankara -- which is yet to take place -- in an effort to mend relations.

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis's visit to Ankara in January 2008, the last major official trip on either side, was seen as crowning 10 years of warming relations. But progress has since been slow, with Greece saying Turkey has made no effort to defuse long-running territorial and other differences. (Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Ingrid Melander)