ANKARA – Turkey is stepping up claims to Greek territory and piling on more pressure in a bid to make Greece take troops off islands near Turkey’s coast, including likely reaching out internationally in a persuasion campaign.
Turkey has insisted that Greece must demilitarize Aegean islands – which would leave them defenseless – and cited the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t recognize.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will ask the countries who signed the 1856 Treaty of Paris and the Lausanne document to side with Turkey and push Greece to take Greek troops off Greek islands.
That comes as Turkey keeps violating Greek airspace and waters by sending in fighter jets and warships and with Erdogan saying he will again send an energy research vessel – guarded by warships – to hunt for oil and gas off Greek islands, including Crete.
Turkey has also complained to the United Nations and blamed Greece for provocations while disputing Greek waters and territory and earlier warning it would be a cause for war if Greece moves to extend its maritime boundaries from six to 12 miles.
Greece’s New Democracy government has again rejected demands by Turkey for demilitarization of Greek islands near Turkey’s coast, after having said Greece has a right to defend itself and its sovereignty.
“Regarding the latest accusations of Turkish officials about the status of the Aegean islands, we reject them in their entirety,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou told a journalist, said Kathimerini.
“These accusations not only do not comply with basic principles of international law, but they also go beyond simple logic. The Greek position on this issue has been expressed repeatedly and publicly,” he said.
Turkey’s belligerence comes ahead of a 64th round of exploratory talks set for Feb. 22, the first 63 having failed and the last two turning into informal chitchats going nowhere fast.