National Airspace (NA)

According to International Law (Articles 1 and 2 of the 1944 Chicago Civil Aviation Convention), a state's national airspace is the airspace that extends over its land and territorial waters (coastal zone)

The determination of the territorial waters of a coastal State is governed by Article 3 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC), which provides that "every state has the right to determine the territorial sea area" . This width does not exceed 12 n.D ... ". To date, Greece has defined two coastal zones. One of them has an area of ​​6 n.m. and is for all topics (general application). Determined by L. 230 of 1936, which provides as follows: "The extent of the coastal zone is determined at six nautical miles from the coast, without prejudice to the provisions in force relating to special cases, as the coastal zone is defined at more or less at about 6 n.m.".

Map showing territorial waters of 10 n.m.

The second is of special application. Its scope was determined by Presidential Decree 6-18 September 1931 at 10 n.m. "on determining the width of territorial waters, regarding the issues of the Aviation and its Police" (Government Gazette A '325). According to this, "having in mind articles 2 and 9 of law 5017" on civil aviation "..... we define the width of the territorial waters zone, referred to in article 2 of Law 5017, at 10 n. m. from the coasts of the State ". According to this arrangement, the width of the Greek national airspace was set at 10 n.m., with reference to the delimitation of a special underlying coastal zone of 10 n.m. for the needs of the Air Force and its Police. The basis of this double arrangement was the policy of serving the freedom of navigation at that time. Indeed, in 1931, Greece, without violating the International Law, could have defined a territorial waters zone of 10 nm. of general application. Greece, however, refrained from doing so for reasons of facilitating maritime navigation.

In compliance with international procedures, Greece had without delay, notified of the above legislation on its national airspace, in order to have legal consequences at the international level and, in particular, against neighboring countries. Thus, based on the relevant obligation of Greece from Annex "F" on aeronautical maps of the Paris Convention of 1919 for Air Traffic, Greece proceeded to notify the CINA (International Aviation Commission) of airspace maps, designation of airways, as well as transit points on its northern and eastern borders. These maps show the external limit of Greek airspace at 10 n.m.

With the entry into force of Annex 4 of the 1944 Chicago Aeronautical Charter Convention, the first ICAO aeronautical maps, published in 1949, were based on CINA maps. In their second publication in 1955, new aeronautical maps were included, which Greece published with a clear description of the external borders of the national airspace at 10 n.m. It is emphasized that the respective Turkish aeronautical maps also include the external limits of the Greek national airspace at 10 n.m.

Turkish claims

Until 1975 and for 44 consecutive years, Turkey recognized and respected this regulation of 10 n.m. From 1975 until today, however, it challenges the more than 6 miles of Greek airspace, ie it considers that 4 miles from 6 to 10 is international airspace, to which it even sends its fighter jets several times a day. The formations of Turkish fighters, often armed, not only violate the now disputed part of the Greek airspace between 10 and 6 nm, but penetrate to a great depth, and beyond 6 nm, ie within the part of the Greek airspace that Turkey recognizes, while there are often overflights of territory of the Greek islands.

Who is right?

It is a fact that the difference between the National Airspace and the territorial waters of Greece is a global paradox and no country (with the exception of Cyprus) recognizes this right in our country. After all, by accepting NATO regulation MC 66/1 in 1962, Greece has accepted that the national airspace for NATO operations is not 10 nautical miles, but only 6. Therefore, the US and NATO do not recognize Greek sovereign rights in the area between 6 and 10 miles during NATO exercises.

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Ηλεκτρολόγος Δημήτρης Ανθής