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Politics

Minister Says Greece Can Hold Aegean Islands if Turkey Attacks

NICOSIA – Visiting Cyprus – where Turks occupy the northern third – Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said Greece’s Armed Forces are ready to defend Aegean islands if Turkey makes a move on them.

Speaking after Cyprus’ independence day military parade, he said that  Turkey’s “revisionist and destabilizing behavior” also undermines security in the wider eastern Mediterranean region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened an attack and warned Greece his forces might “suddenly come one night,” as he continued to demand Greece removes troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast.

Panagiotopoulos dismissed Turkey’s demands to demilitarize the islands “as if they’re not being threatened and as if we don’t have the right to take all defensive measures for them” as “baseless and unacceptable.”

A Cypriot soldier sits on a truck during a military parade marking the 62nd anniversary of Cyprus’ independence from British colonial rule, in Nicosia, Cyprus, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Erdogan has cited the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – that Turkey doesn’t recognize – and the 1947 Treaty of Paris – which Turkey didn’t sign – that he said bar Greece from having troops on the islands, although removing them means they’d be open to an easy takeover.

Turkey summoned the Greek ambassador to protest the alleged deployment of dozens of U.S.-made armored vehicles to the slands of Samos and Lesbos, which Ankara says should remain demilitarized in line with international treaties, and where refugees and migrants who came from Turkey are being held.

Erdogan also warned that his country wouldn’t hold back on defending its rights and interests against NATO ally Greece, further ratcheting up tensions between the historic rivals, the defense alliance wanting no part of it.

 

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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