ANKARA - Turkey continues to provoke Greece during the COVID-19 pandemic and stepped up claims to Aegean waters while accusing Greece of violating the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he doesn't accept.
Erdogan has repeatedly said he covets return of some Greek islands and has continued to send fighter jets and warships to violate Greece's sovereign airspace and seas without any rebuke from NATO, the defense alliance to which both belong.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar jumped in as well, saying his country's “defenses are not weak” and Turkey won't tolerate violations of its sovereign rights while disputing Greece's and accusing Greece of breaching international law by keeping troops on Eastern Aegean islands.
“While our neighbor talks about international law and accuses us without any truth of harassment, it is violating the Treaty of Lausanne. For example, although the 1923 Treaty of Lausannce and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty were explicit, it has armed the islands, whose demilitarizes status has been agreed since 1936,” Akar said in translated comments in an interview with Turkish newspaper Sozcu.
“Moreover, although their territorial waters are 6 miles, they claim that their airspace is 10 miles. These claims are against good neighborly relations and especially of international agreements,” he added.
He also claimed that 18 Greek islands and two Greek rocky islets belong to Turkey. “We will not allow anything to happen in the Aegean,” he said in an apparent attempt to appeal to the nationalist sentiments of the paper’s readership.
Even though Turkey leads the world in jailing journalists and Erdogan has gone after any critical media, Sozcu has stepped up its tough reporting on him over how he has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis and making a maritime deal with Libya dividing the seas between them and also claiming Greek waters.
“We are not threatening Greece. But we will not show any weakness in our defense,” Akar said in comments translated by Greek media.