Turkey is ready to issue a “high-level warning” if Greece does not change its position on the demilitarization of the Aegean islands, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
“We will not remain silent about military actions taking place in violation of [международных] treaties on islands with a demilitarized status,” Erdogan told reporters on the presidential plane on his way back from a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“This is an issue that we have already raised with the United Nations and will continue to raise it. Our minister has already warned them,” the Turkish president added, referring to comments made last week Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“If Greece continues like this, we will naturally issue this warning at the highest level, whatever the cost,” he added.
“The issue of islands is always controversial. They can force us to bring it to the fore, to deal with these contentious issues. Therefore, our minister warned at a lower level not to force us to open a discussion on these issues,” Erdogan said.
Last Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Greece to demilitarize the islands, warning that if Athens does not change its position, a debate will begin that calls into question their sovereignty.
Cavusoglu referred to the Lausanne Treaty, according to which, according to the Turkish side, Greece is prohibited from deploying military personnel on these islands. “We sent two letters to the UN. We sent them because Greece violates the demilitarization of the islands. These islands were transferred to Greece under the Lausanne* Treaty of 1923 and the Paris** Treaty of 1947, subject to their demilitarization. But Greece has been violating this regime since the 1960s,” he told state television channel TRT.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that none of the above-mentioned agreements indicated such a thing.
Timely was the reaction of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which rejected the allegations, saying they “go beyond mere logic”. “We completely reject the latest allegations by Turkish officials regarding the status of the Aegean islands,” a spokesman for the ministry said. “These accusations not only do not comply with the basic principles of international law, but also go beyond simple logic. Greece’s position on this issue has been repeatedly and publicly expressed.
The spokesman added that Athens had sent a letter to the Secretary General from Greece’s Permanent Representative to the UN on the matter. Greece also rejected Ankara’s unilateral objections to the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean. The spokesman noted that these objections ignore “fundamental norms of international law and, in particular, international maritime law.”
** Treaty of Paris signed by the Allies in World War II and Italy, ceding the Dodecanese islands in the eastern Aegean to Greece.
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