Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Contested waters in NATO's new Aegean migrant mission
Athens (AFP) Feb 21, 2016

In its new mission in the Aegean to help Europe tackle its worst migration crisis in 60 years, NATO is wading into one of the world's most contested seas.

The Aegean has claimed the lives of hundreds of migrants in the past year, including scores of children. It has also been a habitual source of tension between NATO members Greece and Turkey for decades.

Ever since the two countries nearly went to war over an uninhabited islet in 1996, Ankara has stepped up challenges to Greece's dominance in the area.

Greece claims a 10-mile (16-kilometre) air space limit around its coastline and islands, but Turkey only recognises six miles, arguing that under international rules Greece's airspace should be the same as its territorial waters.

As a result, there are often mock dogfights when Turkish warplanes enter airspace that Greece claims as its own.

Turkey also says there are a number of Greek islets and islands such as Agathonissi and Farmakonissi, whose sovereignty remains unclear.

But the migration challenge has forced Athens and Ankara to work together, despite their long-standing differences.

After repeated calls from Berlin for closer cooperation between Greek and Turkish coastguards fell on deaf ears, Germany and Turkey earlier in February asked NATO to help police the latter's shores.

"The EU wanted a safe and indisputable means of informing the Turkish coastguard on the movement of migrant smugglers," says Angelos Syrigos, assistant professor of international law and foreign policy at Athens' Panteion University.

"(EU border agency) Frontex has no authority to survey the Turkish coasts where the smugglers are active."

He adds: "If the Turkish coastguard cooperates, there will be results without loss of human life."

- 'Critical information' -

Though the precise details of the operation are still being worked out with Brussels, a five-ship NATO flotilla deployed to the Aegean last weekend, a NATO source said.

"NATO's standing maritime group 2, which currently consists of five ships -- from Germany, Canada, Italy, Greece and Turkey -- has already deployed in the international waters of the Aegean Sea," a NATO official told AFP.

"They are currently conducting reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities, which will provide critical information," the official said, adding that the alliance would also "intensify" intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at the Turkish-Syrian border.

"We are currently working on the details, including the framework of cooperation with the EU, and we'll finalise them in the coming days," the NATO official said.

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos this week said organisers had been careful to keep Greek-Turkish differences from hampering the operation.

Under the terms of the plan, the two country's units will be confined to their respective waters.

"We asked this to be specifically included in the deal, so that NATO and the operation are not embroiled in differences we were sure Turkey would seek to raise," Kammenos told a news conference.

"We never said we resolved Turkey's absurd demands in the Aegean (with this operation)."

- No sign of slowing influx -

The flow of refugees and migrants, which last year reached levels unseen since the end of World War II at over a million people, shows no signs of slowing.

Fabrice Leggeri, head of EU border agency Frontex, this week warned the bloc should brace for another charged year in 2016.

"We have to expect a very high number of irregular border crossings," he told AFP.

"Last year we had 1.8 million. This year the trend in January is increasing again -- 140,000 irregular border crossings at the EU level," Leggeri said.

With large warships now plying the sea lanes, there are also concerns regarding the safety of migrants who are coming in densely packed flimsy boats and dinghies.

In October, a wooden boat carrying dozens of migrants sank near the island of Lesbos after colliding with a Greek coastguard vessel during a rescue operation. Eight people, including four children, died in the accident.

Greece's junior interior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas highlighted the danger of possible errors, even at the hands of experienced NATO crews.

"We must be very careful during such a massive operation to avoid mistakes. Mistakes at sea are dangerous," said Mouzalas, a former senior Doctors of the World physician.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
El Faro captain sought route change before sinking
Miami (AFP) Feb 17, 2016
The captain of the doomed El Faro asked his bosses if he could change his route the day before the US cargo ship sank near the Bahamas, it has emerged. The ship's owners TOTE Maritime shed responsibility, telling US Coast Guard investigators Tuesday that Michael Davidson did not need to ask permission before taking a slower route. El Faro sank when it was caught by Hurricane Joaquin on O ... read more

Enabling human-robot rescue teams

El Faro captain sought route change before sinking

Turkish warplanes enter Greek airspace ahead of NATO migration operation

Australian hospital refuses to return asylum baby to Nauru

Patient wears 3-D glasses during brain surgery

Scientists prove feasibility of 'printing' replacement tissue

Light used to measure the 'big stretch' in spider silk proteins

Not your grandfather's house, but maybe it should be

DNA evidence shows that salmon hatcheries cause substantial, rapid genetic changes

Ocean oases: How islands support more sea-life

Beavers bring environmental benefits

A new form of frozen water

Ice sheet modeling of Greenland, Antarctica helps predict sea-level rise

150,000 Antarctica penguins die after iceberg grounding: study

Clams help date duration of ancient methane seeps in the Arctic

Penguin parents: Inability to share roles increases their vulnerability to climate change

Feeding a city with better food sources

Google makes fresh push into grocery delivery

Tiny fly rattling Florida fruit industry 'eradicated'

How hunter-gatherers preserved their food sources

New app turns smartphones into worldwide seismic network

5.8-magnitude quake hits New Zealand city: USGS

One dead in Portugal floods as cyclist swept away

Tragic tales of loss in Taiwan as search for quake survivors ends

In Congo, a war for Africa's elephants

Three soldiers get life for I.Coast military chief's murder

Saving the wildlife 'miracle' of Congo's Garamba park

Gabon seeks riches in artisanal gold mining

Modern 'Indiana Jones' on mission to save antiquities

South Africa's Sterkfontein Caves produce 2 new hominin fossils

Neanderthals and modern H. sapiens crossbred over 100,000 years ago

Neanderthals mated with modern humans much earlier than previously thought

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement