Greece has a right, as well as an obligation, to defend its Aegean islands against Turkish aggression, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Monday.
Speaking during a visit to Rodopi in northern Greece, Pavlopoulos said the right derives from Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulating “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense” with respect to threats to peace and acts of aggression.
He said Turkish aggression was evident in the country’s recurring threats and provocations, as well as in Ankara’s declaration that any extension of Greek territorial waters will be a cause for war (casus belli).
A pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets flew over the southeastern Aegean islands of Lipsoi and Arkioi near Patmos island on Monday morning without authorization.
In an interview with Turkish newspaper Hurriyet on Sunday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Greece has stationed armed forces in 16 of 23 major eastern Aegean islands, violating a treaty that has called for their demilitarization.
Akar also accused Greece of its “globally unprecedented” discrepancy in claiming a 10-mile national airspace, more than its 6-mile territorial waters.
He made no mention of Turkey’s Fourth, or Aegean, Army, headquartered in Izmir, in close proximity to the islands he accused the Greek government of unlawfully militarizing.
Turkey has presented the Fourth Army as a defensive, training formation.