NEWS

Italian census of the Dodecanese douses Turkish claims

Censuses of the Dodecanese islands carried out by Italian authorities when they ruled the southeastern Aegean region between 1912 and 1943, are said to strengthen Greece?s legal position in regards to recent efforts by Turkey to challenge Greek sovereignty, according to information seen by Sunday’s Kathimerini.

The documents, part of the official state archives, are currently kept on the island of Rhodes. They contain extensive details about the makeup of the population at the time, as well as economic activity and land ownership on small islets and rocks that Ankara has in the past listed as ?gray areas,? or territories of questionable sovereignty.

Syrna, a tiny islet off the more famous Astypalaia, for example, is described in a 1922 census as having an exclusively Orthodox Christian — meaning Greek — population.

Claims in the past by Turkish diplomats did not just concern islets off the coast of the former Ottoman country, but also some in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Greece has proposed an appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if the two states fail to settle an ongoing disagreement about the delineation of the continental shelf.

The Dodecanese islands, which were controlled by the Ottomans before they were ousted by the Italians in 1912, were officially returned to Greece in 1947.