President Says Greek Islands Will be Defended Against Turkey


President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS - Outgoing Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the country’s islands would be defended against any Turkish attempt at incursions as tension between the countries is rising over claims to the seas.

Speaking during a visit to Rodopi in northern Greece, Pavlopoulos said the right derives from Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulating “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense” with respect to threats to peace and acts of aggression.

He noted Turkish claims that any extension of Greek territorial waters will be a cause for war (casus belli) as Turkey, after making a deal with Libya to divide the seas between them, said it would drill for energy off Crete as it’s doing off Cyprus.

That came as Turkey again sent F-16 fighter jets into Greek airspace, this time over the southeastern Aegean islands of Lipsoi and Arkioi near Patmos island, a continuing pattern seen testing Greek resolve.

In an interview with Turkish newspaper Hurriyet on Sunday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Greece stationed armed forces in 16 of 23 major eastern Aegean islands, violating a treaty that has called for their demilitarization.

Akar also accused Greece of its “globally unprecedented” discrepancy in claiming a 10-mile national airspace, more than its 6-mile territorial waters. He made no mention of Turkey’s Fourth, or Aegean, Army, headquartered in Izmir, in close proximity to the islands he accused the Greek government of unlawfully militarizing while Turkey said its armies are strictly defensive in their formation.