The Greek islands that Turkey is trying to "gray"

Intense diplomatic mobility has prevailed in recent days in Greek-Turkish


Intense diplomatic mobility has prevailed in recent days in Greek-Turkish, with Ankara maintaining and escalating tensions, raising the issue of demilitarization of Aegean islands.

The last time he took the baton was, on Tuesday morning, Mevlut Tsavousoglou. The Turkish Foreign Minister - following in the footsteps of Tayyip Erdogan said that "they gave (the islands) to Greece with the Treaty of Lausanne and the other islands the Italians gave to Greece in 1947 with the Treaty of Paris. In both conditions there is a condition: Greece will not militarize, it will not equip these islands. They gave them on that condition. "

The Turkish Foreign Minister stated that "Greece has been militarizing these islands since the 1960s. "First they denied it and then they accepted it, mainly in 1974 and this time with the excuse that there is a threat from Turkey and we are equipping these points."

He also noted that "as Turkey, we have warned. We sent two letters to the UN. In the first letter we mentioned that Greece is militarizing these islands and this is against the two treaties. In the second letter, we clarified in more detail in legal terms that Greece has violated the status of these islands. So Greece must demilitarize these islands. Otherwise the debate on their sovereignty will open. "Because they have given it on that condition."

The fact that Turkey is again raising the issue of demilitarization of the islands of the Eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese came as a reminder of the way in which Turkey has systematically recycled the same issues in recent decades, with the ultimate aim of shaping the image of a "gray area". which, in the opinion of Turkish diplomacy, will facilitate a comprehensive renegotiation of the regime in the Aegean and in Greek-Turkish relations as a whole. Of course, we should not overlook the general eastern bazaar that Ankara is doing, with the background of the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.

It is true that previous treaties established a regime of partial or total demilitarization for several Aegean islands.

Things changed significantly after the deterioration of Greek-Turkish relations and especially after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The assessment that Turkey was moving in a new aggressive direction led the Greek governments to choose to re-militarize the Aegean islands. The founding in 1975 by Turkey of the "Aegean Army" (Fourth Army) based in Smyrna also contributed.

In this context, the re-militarization of the islands was chosen on the basis of Article 51 of the UN Charter, which explicitly allows a country to have the necessary defense training in order to be able to exercise its right to legal defense.

In fact, in recent decades the Greek side has argued that in relation to the status of the islands there is a complete change of circumstances compared to the time of signing the Treaties, that there is a question of threat, legal precautionary defense and countermeasures against the preparation of offensive actions.

The Greek letter - answer

Mr. Tsavousoglou -as well as the Turkish officials in general- forgot to refer to the letter that Greece sent to the Secretary General. of the UN, which completely deconstructs the unilateral and non-existent objections of Turkey to the Aegean islands.

In particular, this letter rejects all Turkish arguments regarding the "interconnection" of Greek sovereignty of the islands and the adjacent Aegean islands with the alleged obligation to demilitarize these islands.

It is emphasized that this interconnection is a clear breach of both the letter and the spirit of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and the Treaty of Paris of 1947, which define permanent borders and territorial rights in the countries concerned, without any other terms or obligations.

It is emphasized that according to international law, when states conclude a treaty defining borders or territorial sovereignty, their main purpose is to achieve stability and finality. For this reason, when a treaty defines a border or a definitive territorial settlement, that settlement is a real event in itself, which no longer depends on the treaty.

Defining a border is an autonomous reality and creates permanence. On the contrary, it is emphasized in the letter of the Greek Permanent Representative, the Turkish unilateral objections are clearly undermining regional peace and security.

At the same time, it is emphasized that these islands, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Article 121 (2), have rights to territorial waters, an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf.

In this context, Greece rejects in its entirety the relevant objections of Turkey.

The islands in the sights of Ankara

According to Ankara, Greece must - on the basis of international law - not have troops on a total of 23 islands in the Eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese. These are specifically Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Ikaria, Lemnos, Samothrace, as well as the islands of the Dodecanese - Astypalea, Rhodes, Halki, Karpathos, Kasos, Tilos, Nisyros, Kalymnos, Agathonisi, Halki, Leros Lipsi, Pserimos, Patmos, Symi, Kos and Kastellorizo.

International treaties established a regime of partial or total demilitarization for several Aegean islands.

The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 (Article 23) stated that Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Ikaria were defined as partially demilitarized zones. It prohibited naval installations or fortifications and allowed only a small presence of military force ("in the usual number for military service") and gendarmerie and police force.

Also, the Lausanne Convention on the Status of the Straits, which is linked to the Treaty of Lausanne and concerned security in the Straits, explicitly provided for the complete demilitarization of Lemnos and Samothrace and Imbros, Tenedos and the Lagos Islands respectively.

However, the Treaty of Montreux of 1936 replaced the above paragraph of the Treaty of Lausanne (Article 23), removing the obligation to demilitarize Lemnos and Samothrace.

Regarding the status of the Dodecanese, Article 14 of the Paris Peace Treaty (1947), on the basis of which Italy grants full sovereignty to Greece in the Dodecanese islands, spoke of the complete demilitarization of the islands. According to Greece, however, the Treaty of Paris does not concern and is not related to Turkey, as Ankara is not a party to it. Therefore, Turkey should not and should not make claims, citing this treaty.