Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated Ankara’s revisionist agenda on Thursday regarding the status of the Aegean in an interview with the widely circulated nationalist Sozcu newspaper.
Akar reiterated that 16 Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean must be demilitarized according to international treaties signed by the two countries. He also claimed that 18 Greek islands and two Greek rocky islets belong to Turkey. “We will not allow anything to happen in the Aegean,” he said in an apparent attempt to appeal to the nationalist sentiments of the paper’s readership.
Sozcu has been at the forefront of scathing criticism heaped on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding both the way the government has handled the Covid-19 pandemic and its policy in Syria and Libya. The newspaper’s criticism against the government was surprising given that in the summer of 2016, in the wake of a botched coup attempt, the latter imprisoned hundreds of journalists.
“We are not threatening Greece. But we will not show any weakness in our defense,” Akar said in comments translated by Greek media.
“At a time when our neighbor is talking about international law and accusing us of nonexistent harassment, it is violating the Treaty of Lausanne,” he insisted. He went on to say that “although it was accepted that the treaties of Lausanne in 1923 and Paris in 1947 explicitly stated that the status of the islands was a demilitarized one, since 1936 the islands have been gradually armed.”
Akar also repeated Ankara’s view that Greece’s claim that its airspace stretches to 10 miles, even though its territorial waters are 6 miles, violates good neighborly relations and international agreements.