Greece’s sovereignty over the Aegean islands is not in dispute, the U.S. State Department said regarding the new threats launched by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against Greece.
In a written statement, a spokesperson for the US State Department noted that at a time when Russia has again invaded a sovereign European state, statements that could increase tensions between NATO Allies are not particularly helpful.
The United States continues to encourage its NATO allies to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve disputes through diplomacy, it said and added:
The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected. Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is not disputed. We call on all parties to refrain from rhetoric and actions that could further escalate tensions.
Turkey disputes the sovereignty of the Aegean islands
On Monday, Turkey summoned the Greek Ambassador in Ankara, Christodoulos Lazaris, protesting the presence of armored units on the islands.
Lazaris was called to the Turkish Foreign Ministry where Turkey demanded that Greece end the purported “violations on the islands and restore their demilitarized status,” according to the Anadolu Agency (AA).
Turkish authorities also lodged a protest with the United States Embassy in Ankara as the vehicles in question are American-made.
The Greek ambassador was quick to reject all Turkish claims, stating that they do not comply with international law, according to diplomatic sources.
As per these sources, Lazaris pointed out that the Greek stance on the issue has been laid out in the two documents sent to the General Secretary of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.
The ambassador is also reported to have stated that it is not Greece that threatens Turkey with a standing casus belli, nor has it concentrated a large transport fleet in the area.
He noted that Turkey continues to question Greek sovereignty, with continued violations of Greek airspace and overflights over Greek territory.