Home ENGLISH ARTICLES Turkey issues new threat against Greece over Aegean islands

Turkey issues new threat against Greece over Aegean islands

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Turkey issues new threat against Greece over Aegean islands
Turkey issues new threat against Greece over Aegean islands

ATHENS — Turkey warned Greece to back off and stop militarizing the Aegean islands, otherwise Ankara “will take the necessary steps on the ground.”

“Either Greece takes a step back and abides by the agreements, or we do what is necessary,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday during a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu in Ankara.

“If Athens does not want peace, Ankara will do whatever is necessary. We cannot remain silent about the disarmament of the islands, we will take the necessary steps both legally and on the ground,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Turkey has stepped up its rhetoric against Greece in recent months amid what Ankara sees as a growing military buildup on the Greek Aegean islands, close to Turkey’s coastline. In a repeated, thinly veiled threat, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said: “We can come down suddenly one night when the time comes.”

Ankara sent a letter to the United Nations in July 2021 laying out its arguments against Athens — which, Çavuşoğlu said, bothered Greece.

These islands were given to Greece under the treaties of Lausanne and Paris on the condition of disarmament, he said, adding that Greece is “directly violating these two agreements.” Greece has deployed military equipment on the islands despite their demilitarized status. “So Greece does not want peace,” Çavuşoğlu added.

Greece said it fully respects its obligations arising from the Treaty of Lausanne, adding that Athens is not provoking its neighbor nor has it amassed a large landing fleet on its shores.

“It is inconceivable that Greece can be accused of increasing tension in the Aegean, when it is Turkey that is directly raising issues that even concern the sovereignty of the Greek islands,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said recently.

Despite being NATO allies, the neighboring countries have been at odds for decades over a number of bilateral disputes, including maritime boundaries, overlapping claims to their continental shelves, and the long-running Cyprus dispute.

Earlier this year, Greece called upon its Western allies to put an end to Turkey’s inflammatory rhetoric or risk another Ukraine situation.

The Greek foreign ministry sent letters to NATO, the United Nations and the EU taking issue with comments by Erdoğan that it said were “unprovoked, unacceptable and an insult against Greece and the Greek people,” asking the organizations to condemn Ankara’s behavior.

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