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Greece Refutes Turkey’s Claims in the UN Over Status in the Aegean

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Greek flags flying over the island of Symi, only a few miles from the Turkish coast. – Public Domain

Greece sent a detailed letter to the United Nations in response to a similar move made by Turkey earlier in July in regard to the militarization of certain islands in the Aegean.

The Greek letter was sent by the Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Maria Theofili to Secretary-General António Guterres. It was also shared with the members of the UN Security Council.

The letter is Greece’s answer to the distorted interpretations in a similar document written  by the Permanent Representative of the country to the United Nations Feridun Hadi Sinirlioğlu and sent to the UN on July 13.

Turkey had claimed in error that all the islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea should be demilitarized and argued that their Greek sovereignty is conditional to their demilitarization, in a blatant attempt to undermine Greece’s sovereign rights in the region.

Greece’s letter refuted these claims with a series of arguments.

The Greek response was prepared by officials of the country’s Foreign Ministry as well as the Special Legal Service and the Diplomatic Office of the Prime Minister and their advisers.

Greece’s Response to Turkey’s Claims

The Greek letter refutes the Turkish arguments and interpretations it attempts to give to international treaties that govern the sovereign and military status of the Eastern Aegean islands.

It also records the systematic threats issued by Turkey against the Greek sovereignty in the region, and its aggression in the broader area.

Additionally, the letter also issues a warning to Ankara: ”Greece has every right to take all necessary precautionary measures to ensure that it is able to exercise its inalienable right to self-defense, according to Article 5 of the UN Charter.”

Turkey’s main argument is that the Treaty of Lausanne provisions call for the islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea remaining demilitarized.

Greece, however, debunks these claims in its recent letter, with a series of legal arguments:

Firstly, Athens notes that Greece’s sovereignty over the Eastern Aegean islands under the Treaty of Lausanne has not been subject to any conditions, including the obligation of demilitarization. Athens rejected as completely unfounded, arbitrary and in bad faith the Turkish claim that “Greek sovereignty over the islands of the Eastern Aegean is subject to their demilitarization.”

Secondly, Athens argues that the Treaty of Lausanne does not talk about demilitarization in general, rather about special military restrictions that apply to only four islands — Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria.

Additionally, Greece gives a clear answer to the Turkish claim that the islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea are an extension of the mainland of Anatolia, therefore are connected to Turkey’s security and defense. It maintains that this is nothing more than a ”systematic attempt by Turkey to challenge Greek sovereignty over these islands.”

Moreover, Greece debunked Turkey’s myth that the Northern Aegean islands of Lemnos and Samothrace should also be demilitarized.

The demilitarization obligation was linked to the corresponding obligation for the islands of Imbros and Tenedos in regards to the status of the Straits, and this obligation ”was abolished by the Treaty of Montreux,” according to the Greek missive.

Additionally, Athens revealed that Turkey had indeed recognized the right to militarize the islands in a letter sent from its ambassador to Athens in 1936, as well as in a speech to the Turkish Parliament made by its Foreign Minister Tevfik Rüştü Aras in 1936.

Greece also reminded Turkey of a clause in the Treaty of Lausanne that bans Turkish aircraft flying over the Eastern Aegean islands, in a similar way to Greece’s aircraft being banned from flying above the shores of Anatolia.

Finally, the Greek letter exposed Turkey’s hypocrisy when it argued that the demilitarization of the Eastern Aegean islands would be ”in the interest of maintaining international peace and security.”

Athens explained how Ankara itself maintains a large military force just opposite to the Aegean islands, often carrying out amphibious exercises; and, of course, it reminded everyone of how Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and continues to occupy the northern part of the island, maintaining a total of 37,000 occupying troops there.

PM Mitsotakis, President Anastasiades Warn Turkey

Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met in Athens on Tuesday, where they both sent a clear message to Turkey that neither Athens nor Nicosia will accept de facto changes to the status of Varosha in Cyprus.

Mitsotakis exposed Turkey’s irrational response to the world community’s negative reaction to Erdogan’s recent announcements about Varosha.

”Turkey claims that it was Greece and Cyprus who misled the entire world, instead of wondering how its own actions have managed to turn the entire world against it,” the Greek PM noted.

Mitsotakis also warned Turkey about its plans for two ”sovereign states” in Cyprus.

“We must be clear: It’s the Republic of Cyprus as it is represented by its legitimate government that is an EU member-state. The EU will never accept the separatist entity as a member if Turkey and the current Turkish Cypriot leadership persist in their divisive plans,” Mitsotakis said, adding that this is why the majority of the native Turkish Cypriots react, as they want to remain part of the European family.


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