US will not help Greek salvage effort

The United States has rejected a request by Greece for technical assistance from the US military to raise a German bomber that crashed into the sea off Leros during World War II, with the argument that the Dodecanese island chain in the eastern Aegean should be demilitarized in accordance with the Treaty of Paris of 1947. This is a position with which Greece disagrees and Turkey agrees. The request was made by the Greek authorities to the US Embassy in May when a specialized US Navy ship was docked in Volos. The salvage operation was scheduled for June but was canceled after the refusal by the United States. The issue emerged yesterday. A Capt. Paul Lantry of the US Embassy wrote to a Greek brigadier and captain on May 14 and told them that the United States could not help. The Dodecanese were under Italian occupation during World War II, until 1947 when they came under the control of Greece. The Department of Defense considers the location, where the salvage operation is to take place, a violation of the Treaty of Paris with regard to the part where it refers to Italy and it considers the islands demilitarized, the letter said. The Department of Defense does not wish to find itself in violation of this treaty. Consequently, the operation in the region of the island of Leros is not regular and is canceled. The letter says at the start that the US Navy cannot take part because serious obstacles cannot be overcome. It refers to two issues which obstruct the operation. The first is whether Germany has granted its approval for the salvaging of the plane and the second, which Lantry describes as the more difficult for his government, is the demilitarization issue. Greece argues Turkey is not a party to the Treaty of Paris. It says also that in accordance with the Vienna Convention of 1969, third countries do not have the right to tell parties what their responsibilities are with regard to the treaty. It also says that under international law every country has the right to defend its territory. The US rejection of Greece’s appeal came days after Ankara, on May 7, rejected the flight plan of the Greek chief of the navy who was to attend a NATO ceremony in Turkey because his helicopter was scheduled to refuel on Rhodes, another island Ankara believes should be demilitarized. Yesterday afternoon, the civil defense authorities advised drivers planning road travel to think again.

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