Ankara, Turkey – Greece challenges Blue Homeland by militarizing and occupying Aegean islands. Turkey wants to resolve its disputes with Greece through dialogue and diplomatic channels. To this end, every time Greece is invited to mutual understanding and dialogue, it follows a provocative, aggressive military policy in Blue Homeland.
Starting from Christmas December 2020, Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of General Staff, and Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Deputy Defense Minister of Greece, have recently visited the some islands of EGAYDAAK such as Farmakonisi, Kos, Samos, Lipso, and Meis in Mavi Vatan.
Successive scandalous steps are coming from Greece, which continues its provocations and aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean. Greece, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, occupied the Islands of demilitarized status and the islands covered by EGAYDAAK and heavily militarized them in defiance of Turkey.
Greece has also announced a number of NOTAMs and NAVTEXs aimed at closing the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea to Turkey. Greece has several land, air and naval bases on the islands in Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, as well as forbidden weapons and defense systems.
After five months of talks, Greece and Israel have reached an agreement to turn Kalamata airport on the Peloponnese peninsula into a joint military flight training centre. The training center will have not only Greek pilots, but also pilots of other countries.
Drones bought by Greece from Israel will be deployed on the Aegean islands. Pegasus drones deployed to Chios have been observing the Eastern Aegean for the past six months. One of the 2 Heron UAVs, which Greece has leased from Israel and will deploy to Skyros Island, is expected to arrive at the end of February 2021. The drones that Greece will deploy will be located near the Lesvos and Chios location.
Occupying and aggressive Greece’s challenge to Turkey:
1-Denying the Turkish identity of the Muslim Turkish minority of Western Thrace, usurping and destroying the rights of education, culture, social and political participation in their own language. Deliberately destroying the historical values of the Muslim Turkish minority, thus committing ethnic and cultural genocide.
2 – Greece occupied EGAYDAAK islands and militarized them in defiance of Turkey.
3-In violation of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty , Greece increased the territorial waters boundary of the islands in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean from 3 miles to 6 miles. Meanwhile, it has been awaiting a favorable conjuncture to increase its territorial waters to 12 miles.
4-Greece, declared as 10 miles of airspace, while 6 miles of islands in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean in response to territorial waters.
5-Greece, forbade the election of Turkish Muslim clergy in Western Thrace and on its islands in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean by the Muslim Turkish community. Instead, Greece’s appointed clerics carry out these services. In this way, Greece has banned freedom of religion and conscience. It constantly violates human rights.
6-Greece, gave multi-functional military bases in Crete and Alexandroupoli to the United States against Turkey.
7-As a result of the change of the natural bed of the Meriç River, part of the Turkish land remained on the western side of the Meriç River. However, Greece occupied these Turkish lands as its own. In addition, Greece, seeking to block the passage of irregular migrants and political refugees, has pulled barbed wire along the Meric River.
8-After Greece subjected irregular migrants and political refugees to various tortures and blows, it pushes them back to Turkey from the Meric River. Cruel Greece usurps the valuable belongings and money of irregular migrants and political refugees, pushing them naked back to Turkey from the Meric River. As a result of this cruel attitude of Greece, there are hundreds of irregular migrants and political refugees who drown in the Meric River every year.
9-Greece treats irregular migrants and political refugees in the Aegean as inhumane to those who cross the Meric River. After various tortures and blows to them, Greece usurps their valuable belongings and money, pushing them back in broken or small boats to die in the Aegean Sea. Frontex ignores Greece’s inhumane treatment of irregular migrants and political refugees in the Aegean.
10-Greece challenges Turkey by organizing military activities with non-regional actors. Greece wants to nullify the agreement signed by Turkey with Libya by signing an EEZ agreement with Egypt in the Eastern Mediterranean. For this purpose, it constantly conducts military exercises with non-regional countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean.
Instead of solving its problems with Turkey in traditional diplomatic ways, Greece continues to throw up its provocations and aggressions, hoping for help from non-regional actors ( EU, US and France) in Blue Homeland. Greece, founded by the imperialist powers as a project state in 1821, is preparing for its biggest challenge in the Blue Homeland in pursuit of the historical dream of Megalo Idea.
Militarization of Eastern Aegean Islands Contrary tp the Provisions of International Agreements
One of the basic issues between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea is the demilitarized status of the Eastern Aegean Islands. The Eastern Aegean Islands are demilitarized by several international agreements which impose legal obligations binding upon Greece. The legal instruments setting up a demilitarized status for the Eastern Aegean Islands can be summarized from an historical perspective as follows :
a) 1913 Treaty of London : The future of the Eastern Aegean Islands have been left to the decision of Six Powers in Article 5 of the Treaty of London.
b) 1914 Decision of Six Powers: The islands of Lemnos, Samothrace, Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria and others under Greek occupation as of 1914 were ceded to Greece by the 1914 Decision of Six Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary) on the condition that they should be kept demilitarized.
c) 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty: In Article 12 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty the 1914 Decision of Six Powers was confirmed.
Article 13 of the Laussane Treaty stipulated the modalities of the demilitarization for the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria. It imposed certain restrictions related to the presence of military forces and establishment of fortifications which Greece undertook as a contractual obligation to observe stemming from this Treaty.
The Convention of the Turkish Straits annexed to the Laussanne Treaty further defined the demilitarized status of the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace. It stipulated a stricter regime for these islands, due to their vital importance to the security of Turkey by virtue of their close proximity to the Turkish Straits.
d) 1936 Montreux Convention: The Montreux Convention did not bring any change to the demilitarized status of these Islands. With the Protocol annexed to the said Convention, the demilitarized status of the Turkish Straits has been lifted to ensure the security of Turkey. In the Montreux Convention there is no clause regarding the militarization of the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace.
e) 1947 Paris Peace Treaty: The demilitarized status of Eastern Aegean Islands was once again confirmed in 1947 long after the Lausanne Treaty. The “Dodecanese Islands” namely Stampalia, Rhodes, Calki, Scarpanto, Casos, Piscopis, Nisiros, Calimnos, Leros, Patmos, Lipsos, Symi, Cos and Castellorizo were ceded to Greece on the explicit condition that they must remain demilitarized (Annex 6).
The demilitarization of the Eastern Aegean Islands was due to the overriding importance of these islands for Turkey’s security. In fact, there is a direct linkage between the possession of sovereignty over those islands and their demilitarized status. Greece, in this respect, cannot unilaterally reverse this status under any pretext.
The above mentioned international treaties which are in force and thus binding upon Greece strictly forbid the militarization of Eastern Aegean Islands and bring legal obligations and responsibilities to Greece.
However, despite the protests of Turkey, Greece has been violating the status of the Eastern Aegean Islands by militarizing them since the 1960’s in contravention of her contractual obligations. These illegal acts of Greece have increased considerably over the last years and became a vital dispute between the two countries. It is worthwhile to recall that Turkey’s several appeals to Greece to respect the demilitarized status of these Islands have been disregarded so far.
From a mere point of view to respect international law, it should be underlined that Greece also introduced a reservation to the compulsory jurisdiction of International Court of Justice on the matters deriving from military measures concerning her “national security interests” when she accepted the Court’s jurisdiction in 1993. In so doing, Greece aims to prevent a dispute concerning the militarization of the islands to be referred to the International Court of Justice.