On tuesday, Turkey threatened Greece that it “will do what is necessary” if Athens refuses to demilitarize the Aegean islands.
The new threat was expressed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “Greece continues its provocations,” he said at a joint press conference with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. “We cannot keep quiet about it.”
Cavusoglu emphasized that Turkey would do “what is necessary” if Greece does not comply with the treaties which stipulate disarmament of these islands.
“Either Greece takes a step back and abides by agreements, or we will do what is necessary,” he stated.
If Athens doesn’t want peace, Ankara will do whatever is necessary,” the minister said, recalling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning that “Türkiye can come suddenly one night.”
“The mentioned islands and some of the islands that were given to Greece with the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris peace treaties had one condition,” Cavusoglu said. “Greece cannot arm these areas because this agreement is called a ‘peace treaty,’ and therefore Greece cannot bring weapons to these places.”
Emphasizing that there is a direct link between the status of the demilitarized islands and their sovereignty, he said, “If Greece does not give up on this violation, their sovereignty will be discussed.”
“On the other hand, Greece is taking negative steps, arming these areas, and taking other steps despite these agreements for our security,” he added. “Therefore, we cannot remain silent against it.”
Greece rejects Turkey’s claims on demilitarization of the Aegean islands
Greece has always dismissed Turkey’s claims, responding that as long as there is a Turkish military threat to these islands, they will not be demilitarized.
For Greece, memories of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus remain fresh even forty-eight years later. The removal of the Greek Division in Cyprus in late 1967 to early 1968 by the junta left the island unprotected.
It made it very easy for Turkey to invade the country in 1974 under the pretext of protecting Turkish-Cypriots.
Greece wants to avoid a possible repeat of a Turkish invasion of one of its islands in the Eastern Aegean.
Greece absorbed the islands of Limnos, Samothrace, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, and Ikaria from the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars of 1912 to 1913. 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 and fortifications or have large concentrations of troops on the islands.
Greece has never built naval bases on the islands and denies it has placed a disproportionate number of forces there.
Related: Why Greece Will Never Consider Demilitarizing the Aegean Islands
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