Amid Turkey’s dispute of Greece’s sovereignty over its islands in the eastern Aegean, Washington proceeded on Friday with a clear and a direct rejection of Ankara’s unfounded claims.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected. The sovereignty of Greece over these islands is not in question,” said a US State Department spokesman a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu cited the treaties of Lausanne in 1923 and Paris in 1947 to state that sovereignty of these islands was conditional on Greece not militarizing them.
Greece has always dismissed these claims, responding that as long as there is a Turkish military threat to these islands they will not be demilitarized.
On Thursday, Cavusoglu said that Turkey had sent a letter to the United Nations condemning the alleged violations of both the Lausanne and Paris treaties.
“If Greece does not change its position, then the sovereignty of these islands is debatable,” he added.
The Greek Foreign Ministry rejected these latest demilitarization demands, saying they “go beyond simple logic.”
However, based on Cavusoglu’s announcements, Ankara will most likely seek to internationalize the issue, addressing the countries that signed the Lausanne and Paris treaties.
The Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 by France, the UK, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, Turkey and the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
The 1947 Treaty of Paris, which, among other things, decided to ratify the transfer of the Dodecanese from Italy to Greece, was signed by the Soviet Union (USSR), the UK, the US, China, France, Australia, Belgium, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine, South Africa and Yugoslavia.
In the event that Turkey chooses the path of internationalization, it will involve the NATO member-states and Germany, which was absent from both tables where the Lausanne and Paris were inked.
Article 15 of the Lausanne Treaty ratifies the transfer of sovereignty of the islands to Greece. Ankara cannot invoke the Treaty of Paris of 1947 because it was not a party to it. As for the the Dodecanese islands, it had already given up any claim at Lausanne.