Friday, 23 February 2018
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National airspace

Greece exercises sovereignty in the air within 10 nautical miles of its coasts (under the Decree of 6 September 1931, in conjunction with Laws 5017/1931, 230/1936 and 1815/1988). Greece, as a sovereign state, chose to exercise its sovereignty in the air within the 10 nautical miles of territorial waters it declared in 1931,  for the purposes of aviation and the control thereof, and within 6 nautical miles at sea (Law 230/1936 and legislative decree 187/1973).

Turkish warplanes, often armed, violate Greek airspace on a systematic basis ,,and fly over even inhabited Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, which raises serious security concerns.

Such a conduct on the part of Turkey not only consists a flagrant violation of Greek airspace and triggers potential “hot incidents” – but also creates risks to civil aviation.

Turkey’s claim countering the breadth of Greek national airspace under international law, is groundless for the following reasons:

a) The exercise of sovereignty within 10 nautical miles of territorial waters for aviation purposes is legal, as it does not exceed the 12 nautical miles, up to which limit the outer limit of territorial waters could extend,  according to the law of the sea.

b) Greece has published the above legislation.

c) From 1931 and for many decades onwards Turkey accepted the breadth of Greek national airspace at 10 nautical miles without raising any objection or dispute, which qualifies under international law as a tacit legal agreement. The 10-nautical mile status, which has been in force since 1931, when the relevant presidential decree was issued and uniformly implemented, has never triggered any protest as to its legal basis.

Last Updated Monday, 12 December 2016