ANKARA – A newspaper columnist in Turkey has added his voice to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and politicians – including rival parties – who want Turkey to get tougher with Greece and even seize islands.
The pro-government Milliyet columnist and Director of the Kanal D TV network in Ankara, Zafer Sahin, wrote a piece entitled The Ottoman Islands in the Aegean questioning Greece’s ownership of some.
“There are Ottoman islands that have not been transferred to the maps of the US and Great Britain, issued after the Second World War, which appear outside Greek territory,” Sahin claimed
He wrote in the wake of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who said uinless Greece demilitarizes some islands that Turkey might act, but didn’t say if they would be taken or invaded.
“Otherwise, the debate over sovereignty begins as they have been given (to Greece) under conditions,” he said.
But he went further, said Kathimerini, suggesting that Turkey also also challenge the sovereignty of other islands, including Gavdos. “This is located south of Crete and is under a regime whose sovereignty has not been determined,” he said.
Referring to the 1996 crisis over the uninhabited islets of Imia that brought the countries to the brink of war and led to a Greek helicopter crashing there under mysterious circumstances.
It killed Greek Naval officers t killed Christodoulos Karathanasis, Panagiotis Vlahakos, and Ektoras Gialopsos, with speculation their craft was shot down and the incident covered up to prevent a war.
Sahin said the rising tensions mean that “a second Imia crisis is on the brink. This is because the situation has turned into a deep political and military crisis that goes beyond the Imia issue.”
He said Turkey should question who owns islands whose sovereignty has not been given to either country under any treaties although some Erdogan said he wants the return of some Greek islands ceded away under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t recognize unless invoking to Turkey’s advantage.
The idea has also been picked up and promoted by the Turkish media, targeting specific islands, such as Agathonisi and Farmakonisi, said Kathimerini about Turkey’s revisionism.
“Turkey has long promulgated theory of “gray zones” regarding the status of 152 Greek islands and islets, but it seems that now there is an attempt to connect them with the Ottoman Empire,” the paper said.