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Greek President’s Visit to Remote Island Puts Turkey In A Tizzy

Ευρωκίνηση

President Sakellaropoulou is visiting Agathonissi and Lipsi. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

A pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets conducted unauthorized flights over the remote island of Agathonisi on June 30, a day after a visit by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou’s trip there got Turkey's state-run media all lathered up and claiming it was now  “Greek-occupied.”

The Turkish jets were intercepted by Greek fighter pilots, a regular occurrence with frequent Turkish violations of Greek sovereign airspace, the tiny, remote island of Agathonisi in the northern Dodecanese a temporary hot spot in flaring tensions between the countries.

Turkey disputes the sovereignty of some Greek islands and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he covets the return of islands near Turkey’s coast ceded to Greece in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he refuges to recognize even when invoking it in his advantage. 

The small islet has abou 100 permanent residents, a mayor, a small National Guard contingent and even a post office but is among those that in the eatern Aegean that Turkey doesn’t accept are Greek.

The Greek business newspaper Naftemporiki reported on ire set off among Turkey’s state-run media outlets, the predominant source of news after Erdogan started jailed journalists and cracking down on newspapers and websites in the wake of a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

In a dedication in a guest book at the town hall, Sakellaropoulou expressed thanks to the guardians of Greece's borders, "The warriors of the frontline, who with determination, calm-headedness, self-sacrifice and high morale defend our national integrity and sovereign rights, without flinching in the face of provocations and threats,” the paper also said.

She said that, “Thanks to the frontline fighters, the Greeks can feel safe and secure that our country is and will remain a pillar of peace and stability in the wider area.” 

She stressed that Greece has long sought good-neighborly relations and cooperation with Turkey and is investing in the peaceful coexistence and cooperation of the two peoples. 

“However, it is not prepared to relinquish its sovereign rights or accept disputes over national territory,” she said, Greece's state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) said.

The Dodecanese islands in the southeast Aegean were formally annexed by Greece via an international treaty two years after the end of World War II from Italy, which had occupied them while allied with Germany before breaking away and becoming a Nazi enemy.

The islands have been part of the Hellenic world for millennia, with only a small Muslim minority found on Rhodes and two predominately Muslim villages cited on the island of Kos - communities dating from three-and-a-half centuries of Ottoman rule.