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Statement by Ambassador Necati Utkan, Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs In Response To a Question on the Greek Reaction Concerning the Athens FIR (Unofficial Translation) January 8, 1999

QUESTION - Can you comment on the Greek reactions which was widely covered by the press, regarding the statement of the the Ministry Spokesman, concerning the Athens FIR January 5, 1999?

ANSWER - It was expressed in our press release dated January 5,1999 that Greece had failed to fulfill its technical responsibilities within the Athens FIR. As a matter of fact, the Greek reactions appeared in press thoroughly confirmed the information and views contained in our press release. Presence of serious problems within the Athens FIR was confirmed particularly by the Greek Civil Aviation Authority.

It is noteworthy that, the Greek statements tried to reduce the problem down to a solely technical issue and vocalized that equipment deficiencies would be overcome in a short period of time.

Whereas, beyond technical deficiencies, the core issue here is misguided conception as well as personnel inadequacy and inefficiency.

Greece should, above all, alter its mentality and abandon its unfounded and inadmissible approach of considering FIR as if it is an area of sovereignty which is in contradiction with the international law, in order to fulfill its responsibility of providing services as required within the FIR.

Furthermore, while getting unnecessarily and politically occupied with the Turkish military flights in the Aegean international air space conducted by taking all necessary measures regarding the safety of civil aviation and without demanding any kind of service from the Greek authorities, Greece has, in fact, long been disregarding its essential duties for the Athens FIR.

Whatever the reason is, the international community can not accept deficiencies or mismanagement in providing international air traffic services which is a vital issue that concerns the safety of human life and property. In this vein, we would like to confirm that the Turkish civil aviation units are fully prepared to assume the duties of the Athens FIR air traffic control units.