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Ankara insists on disputing Aegean status

Athens sends out stern response after Turkey links island demilitarization with sovereignty

Ankara insists on disputing Aegean status

Ankara resorted to an unprecedented escalation Thursday, threatening to launch an international campaign against Greece regarding its sovereignty over islands in the eastern Aegean which, it insists, is conditional on their demilitarization according to past treaties. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced Thursday that Ankara will ask the parties to the Lausanne and Paris treaties to take a stand on how Greece is doing regarding the demilitarization status of the islands.

Cavusoglu’s call was the latest move by Ankara in a long series of challenges to Greek sovereignty, including the submission of its claims in official documents to the United Nations, constant illegal overflights in the Aegean by Turkish fighter jets, and other escalations.

For its part, Athens has dismissed all such claims in their entirety as part of a wider Turkish tactic and goal to dispute Greek sovereignty across the entire eastern Aegean in various ways. 

The Greek Foreign Ministry Thursday rejected Turkey’s latest demands to demilitarize its islands, dismissing them as going “beyond simple logic.”

“Regarding the latest accusations of Turkish officials about the status of the Aegean islands, we reject them in their entirety,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou told a journalist.

“These accusations not only do not comply with basic principles of international law, but they also go beyond simple logic. The Greek position on this issue has been expressed repeatedly and publicly,” Papaioannou stressed.

Papaioannou said that Athens has sent a letter to the United Nations secretary-general on this issue by Greece’s permanent representative to the UN. 

Greece also rejects Ankara’s unilateral objections to the delimitation of the continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean, he said, noting that these objections ignore “the fundamental rules of international law, and in particular the international law of the sea.”

The move comes ahead of the next round (64th) of the exploratory contacts between the two countries on February 22.

As a rule, on the part of the Greek side at least, these contacts only include discussions on maritime zones.