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Greek Island of Oinousses Sends Message of Defiance to Turkey

oinousses greek island turkey
A giant flag was placed on the Greek island of Oinousses after Turkey claimed that the island was “occupied” by Greece. Credit: Stavros D. Zannikos

The Greek island of Oinousses sent a clear message to Turkey on Friday, after Turkish media claimed that the island was “occupied” by Greeks, by displaying a giant Greek flag along the side of the island.

The controversy began when Nikos Chardalias, Greek Deputy Defense Minister, posed for a photo with Greek soldiers on the island of Oinousses, which is located in the eastern Aegean, wedged between the Greek island of Chios and the Turkish coast.

Chardalias was there to visit the soldiers who were conducting the “Parmenion 21” military exercises.

oinousses greek island turkey
Greek Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Chardalias, surrounded by soldiers, posing on the Greek island of Oinousses. Credit: Greek Department of Defense

Turkish media erupted in response to the photograph, as a headline in the newspaper Sozcu read “Greece conducted military exercises on our occupied island.”

In the article, the journalist notes that you can see Izmir, once the cosmopolitan city of Smyrna which was home to a large Greek population for millennia, in the picture.

Oinousses mayor responds to Turkey

Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar wondered “What business does Greece have conducting a military exercise on Oinousses? It’s a provocation.”

Giorgos Daniil, the mayor of Oinousses, wrote a message on Facebook responding to Akar, stating: “Akar is annoyed! Sit tight, we still have a lot more plans for Oinousses.” The post was accompanied by the picture of the giant Greek flag on the island.

Oinousses is quite a small island, measuring only 6.7 square miles. Despite its small size, however, the island is home to many historic ship-owning families, who have made the island a cultural hub.

The island is home to a small port, monastery, school, a naval high school, many churches, and a maritime museum. Oinousses was home to around 950 residents in 2020.

Turkey threatens Greek islands

Turkey has repeatedly claimed that the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean should belong to Turkey due to their proximity to the country. Most notably, this rhetoric has swirled around the island of Kastellorizo.

The Foreign Minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias, cited these dangerous claims when speaking to the Greek Parliament ahead of the vote on the France-Greece Defense Agreement that was ratified on Thursday.

“When we have Turkey right next door, do you think Greece has the luxury of not agreeing with the biggest military power in Europe to sign this deal?” Dendias asked.

The deal, signed in Paris on September 28, states that Greece will buy three advanced frigates, with an option for a fourth, and a delivery date of between 2025 and 2026. The frigates will also be compatible with the jets Greece is also purchasing from France. It has already ordered some 24 Dassault-made Rafales this year.

The agreement also includes a clause for mutual assistance in case of armed attack against the territory of one of the two.

“This historic text is put to Parliament for consideration, making today’s debate a historic debate as its ratification means the protection of Greece, the strengthening of the south European part of the agreement, as well as the first effort for Europe’s strategic autonomy,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during the Parliamentary debate.

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