Moving to strengthen his hand, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push for control over the East Mediterranean and Aegean led Greece’s Foreign Ministry to rebut claims Greece is trying to bring NATO into disputes between the countries.
Both belong to the defense alliance whose chief, former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg, said he wants no part of the provocations being waged, with Turkey repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters with fighter jets and warships.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy denounced “the attempts of Greece, our neighbour and Ally, to abuse international organizations, including NATO, and draw them into these disputes with the aim of justifying her national positions.”
He repeated Turkish claims that, “(t)he Eastern Aegean islands were put under demilitarized status by virtue of several international agreements, including the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and the Treaty of Paris of 1947.”
He added that means, “military vessels operating in the Aegean Sea under the NATO Activity would refrain from visiting the Aegean islands under demilitarized status according to international law, including with the aim of refuelling or port visits.” Violating these conditions, Aksoy said, would also violate “the Alliance’s policy of refraining from involvement in bilateral disputes between Allies.”
Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas said that “such unacceptable and unfounded claims against Greece undermine the stability of the area and the cohesion of the Alliance. Similar claims have absolutely no footing in international law and have been answered appropriately and repeatedly,” said Kathimerini.
“Turkey is putting forward equally unfounded claims as to the institutional operation of NATO and the carrying out of its operations in the Aegean, which it obstructs unjustifiably,” the Greek statement added.
Erdogan doesn’t recognize the Treaty of Lausanne that set borders between the countries and said he covets return of Greek islands so close to Turkey’s shore he can almost shout to them and as his bellicose talk has picked up with no rebuke from NATO.
Aksoy also said in his written statement that, “Greece’s claims that the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea has rendered Turkey’s legitimate position that is fully in accordance with international law “de facto invalid” are in vain.”
He was referring to a NATO mission for preventing illegal migration in the Aegean Sea, whose rules of engagement are determined on concerns of Turkey as some islands in the Aegean Sea are demilitarized by international treaties, said Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
The Eastern Aegean islands were put under demilitarized status by virtue of several international agreements, including the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and Treaty of Paris of 1947, Aksoy said, noting that these treaties prohibit the militarization of the Eastern Aegean islands.
“They are in force, and thus, are legally binding for Greece, imposing legal responsibilities on this country,” he said.