Greece must withdraw its military from the Aegean islands or Turkey “will take matters further,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on Thursday, adding that Ankara is prepared to challenge their sovereignty.
“We are not bluffing. If Athens does not comply, we will take matters further,” Cavusoglu told reporters on a flight back from a visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“It is against international law for Greece to cancel the status of the islands conditionally given to it within the framework of the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris peace agreements. Whatever reason Greece finds, its justification is not valid. What were the terms? It will not arm these islands. Greece has armed them since 1960, so we say that if it doesn’t yield, we will start a debate on their sovereignty,” Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu’s comments are the latest sharp escalation in the rhetoric emanating from Ankara following Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recent visit to Washington, where he referred to Turkey’s increasingly aggressive behavior.