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August 1st, 2006
Flying Down to Kabul
Map: Airspace Politics: Turkey

Source: CIA World Factbook 2006

Airspace: 379,191 square miles

Recent Airspace Conflicts

Bordering eight countries, Turkey’s geographic location stretching from eastern Europe to the Middle East makes its airspace politics unique.

In 1996, Israel and Turkey signed an agreement for military cooperation, according to which each country can deploy or temporarily station its land, air, and naval force units in the other country’s territory. Due to Israel’s high population density and size, a fast reaction time to any ballistic missile attack on this country is imperative to avoid destruction. This has led to speculation that Israel will in the future take advantage of the agreement with Turkey to launch pre-emptive strikes on ballistic missile launching sites in countries bordering Turkey, namely Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

At the onset of the war in Iraq, Turkey initially barred U.S. military flights from its airspace. In March 2003, however, Turkish parliament approved this use after much debate and protest throughout the country.

In 2006, a Greek pilot died after his jet collided with a Turkish fighter over the Aegean Sea. Turkey disputes that it had flown into Greek airspace and said its pilot, who ejected to safety, was technically in international Mediterranean airspace. Turkey insists Greek airspace extends only 6 miles offshore, not 10 miles as Greece maintains. In the past, the two countries have come close to armed conflict over the disagreement.

In July of 2006, both the head of Iran’s health ministry and head of emergency services were quoted as accusing Turkey and Saudi Arabia of having prevented Iran from using their airspace for humanitarian aid destined for Lebanon. Three planes loaded with medicine are claimed to have been diverted. Some speculate this action will fuel Iranian anger against Turkey.

Airspace Regulatory Body

The General Directorate of State Airports Authority: Subsidiary of the Ministry Transport and Telecommunications.

Membership in International Aviation Organizations

EUROCONTROL: An international governmental organization with 31 member states. Among its many services, this organization seeks to fulfill the needs of civil and military aircraft through the Flexible Use of Airspace mandate. This approach attempts to avoid airspace restrictions due to military operations by limiting the duration of restrictions to coincide with the duration of military operations, thus not blocking large areas of airspace for lengthy periods of time. Furthermore, it aims to break down national airspace barriers and develop a single upper airspace for use by partner countries through the Single European Sky mandate.

Sources: VOICE OF AMERICA, Middle East Forum, CNN, General Directorate of State Airports Authority, Federal Aviation Administration, International Civil Aviation Organization

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