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Greece Launches Official Protest to Turkey Over Aegean Islands Provocation

Greece Turkey protest Aegean Islands
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens. Credit: Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Greece issued on Thursday a diplomatic protest, or demarche, to Turkey over the continued provocations of Turkish officials, including President Erdogan, who have even been questioning the sovereignty of the Aegean islands.

The protest was handed over by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Turkish Ambassador in Athens.

Greece underlined its strong displeasure following the recent statements of Turkish officials who questioned Greek sovereignty over its Aegean islands.

It was stressed that these statements are not only counterproductive but an escalation of Turkey’s provocative behavior.

The irony in Turkey’s positions was further emphasized, as the Turkish side constantly invokes international law, at the very moment when it is blatantly violating it.

The demarche mentioned as examples Turkey’s 1995 threat to go to war with Greece – the so-called “casus belli” – if Athens exercises its legal right to extend its territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles, as well as the illegal Turkey-Libya memorandum on maritime zones, and the “Blue Homeland” rhetoric.

The Foreign Ministry also instructed the Greek embassies in the European Union, NATO and the members of the UN Security Council to brief them on the escalation of Turkey’s activities.

Protest after Turkey disputes Greece’s sovereignty of the Aegean Islands

On Tuesday Erdogan warned Greece against attempts to arm the Aegean islands.

“It is not possible for us to remain silent about the military activities carried out in violation of the agreements on the islands with disarmed status,” Erdogan said.

In letters sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last July and September, Turkey for the first time disputed Greece’s sovereignty over its eastern Aegean islands, “over which sovereignty was ceded to Greece on the specific and strict condition that they be kept demilitarized,” in the words of Turkey’s permanent representative, Feridun Sinirlioglu.

Amid Turkey’s dispute of Greece’s sovereignty over its islands in the eastern Aegean, Washington proceeded last week with a clear and direct rejection of Ankara’s unfounded claims.

Turkey has long called for the demilitarization of the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean. In 2020, Ankara singled out sixteen Aegean islands, claiming that Greece is violating international agreements.

Aegean islands awarded to Greece at the Treaty of Lausanne

Greece absorbed the islands of Limnos, Samothrace, Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Ikaria from the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. It was officially awarded sovereignty over them in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.

Another treaty drawn up in London in 1914 had made Greek possession of the islands conditional on their demilitarization. Turkey says that since the Lausanne Treaty makes reference to the 1914 treaty, it implies the same conditionality. Greece rejects that interpretation.

The Lausanne Treaty said Greece could not build naval bases or fortifications, or have large concentrations of troops, on the islands.

Greece has never built naval bases on the islands and has denied it has placed disproportionate forces there.

RelatedWhy Greece Will Never Consider Demilitarizing the Aegean Islands


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