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Greece Refutes Turkey's Claims About Militarized Greek Islands

Ευρωκίνηση

A Greek soldier on Kastellorizo Island. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – Greece has rejected claims made by Turkey to the United Nations that Greek troops are unlawfully on Greek islands, Turkey international treaties it doesn't recognize to make its case.

Turkey sent a letter to the UN which Greek officials said was unfounded, unlawful and historically inaccurate, said Kathimerini, although the claims keep being made to no avail.

In a letter rebuttal to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Greece’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Maria Theofili cited the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that set boundaries between the countries and the 1947 Treaty of Paris in defense.

Turkey used the same treaties in trying to make a case against Greece but the UN typically steers clears of feuds between countries and Guterres has shown he wants no part of diplomatic battles.

Theofili's letter, the paper reported, said Turkey's claims “are not only manifestly unsubstantiated and unfounded but also legally and historically incorrect.”

She added that, “Once again we wish to reiterate that sovereignty over the islands, islets and rocks of the Aegean was ceded to Greece definitively and unconditionally by the above Treaties and any interpretation against the letter or spirit of these fundamental Treaties would amount to an unauthorized attempt to unilaterally review and modify them,” the letter giving a point-by-point rebuttal.

Turkey doesn't want Greek troops on Greek islands near Turkey's coast, in a region of the seas where Turkey wants to hunt for energy near Greek islands, a tactic military analysts said is designed to weaken Greece's defenses.

Theofili said that Turkey's scheme is an attempt to tie its demand for demilitarization of Greek island to an clear the way for claiming maritime zones and the seas, which Greece won't allow and said it's prepared to defend.

Turkey, meanwhile, keeps a 35,000-strong army on the occupied northern third of Cyprus which was unlawfully seized in two 1974 invasions and said the troops will never be removed from there.