Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday said recent comments by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan are “undermining” the Treaty of Lausanne delineating the borders between the two countries, as well as bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey.
Speaking in Edessa during a ceremony naming him an honorary citizen of the northern Greek town, Pavlopoulos said that “the rhetoric of Turkish President Erdogan, in any perspective, even the most benevolent, unfortunately directly or indirectly undermines the Treaty of Lausanne, not to mention Greek-Turkish relations and relations between the European Union and Turkey.”
Erdogan caused displeasure in Athens in September by indicating that Ankara “gave away” Aegean islands to Greece under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the pact that defined the borders of modern Turkey following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
In a speech to regional officials in Ankara, Erdogan appeared to express his regret for the border decisions imposed by the pact. “Some tried to deceive us by presenting Lausanne as victory,” he said.
“In Lausanne, we gave away the islands that you could shout across to,” he said, referring to Greek islands located in the Aegean Sea close to the Turkish coastline.
“I must stress – and I say this in good faith – that it is us who have supported and continue to support constitutional legitimacy in Turkey; it is us who desire good neighborly relations,” Pavlopoulos said in his speech on Tuesday.
“Greece is Turkey’s window to Europe,” the Greek president added. “This is something we want, but it requires respect for history and international law.”