On Friday, the US State Department delivered a clear message in response to the latest comments by Turkish leadership about the Aegean islands.
Speaking during the Efes-2022 military exercise held on the Aegean coast near Izmir, the Turkish President warned Greece on Thursday to stop arming the islands and also threatened that Turkey would not hesitate to use its powers “stemming from international agreements.”
Greece is violating treaties by arming islands in the Aegean, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu also said on Tuesday, warning that the sovereignty of those islands will be questioned if Greece fails to demilitarize them.
Hence, the Department of State spokesperson’s announcement on June 10th asserted that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected. We continue to encourage our allies in NATO, Greece and Turkey, to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve disputes through diplomacy. We urge our allies to refrain from rhetoric that could further escalate tension. Greece and Turkey are both strong partners and key NATO allies of the United States.”
Firm reactions to Turkey’s comments about Greece
This is not the first time that the US State Department has responded quickly on any doubts cast on the sovereignty of Greek islands.
Every time that the Turkish foreign minister has attempted to raise such an issue through his statements, the US State Department has taken an immediate stance in the matter.
A State Department spokesman had previously clarified in two statements, on February 11th and June 2nd, that Greece’s sovereignty of the Aegean islands is beyond questioning.
“Greece’s sovereignty on these islands is not in doubt,” the US State Department said firmly.
“Where disagreements exist over the limits of a country’s territorial airspace, we urge coordination and discussion, not provocative actions that could lead to deadly accidents,” State Department spokesperson Ned Pierce had noted at the time.
Heated summer in the Aegean
Recent weeks have seen a prolonged period of tension with Turkey following the May visit of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitotakis to the U.S..
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has since launched a series of personal verbal attacks against the Greek leader. There have also been increased overflights over Greek islands and boatloads of migrants sailing towards Greece.
Harsh rhetoric and provocative statements are not helpful. What the Turkish side should do is to refrain from such statements. pic.twitter.com/ylj9putRsY
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) June 9, 2022