Greece hits back at Turkish claims in Aegean Sea

AFP , Thursday 9 Jun 2022

Greece on Thursday published a series of historical maps looking to refute Turkish accusations that Athens is violating peace treaties that followed World War I and World War II.

Greece s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou
Greece s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou reviews a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. AP


Turkish authorities say the Greeks have stationed troops on Aegean islands in violation of the peace treaties that followed the two 20th century conflicts.

Athens counters that the troops are stationed in response to the presence of Turkish military units, aircraft and landing craft on the opposite coast, in addition to Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

The Greek foreign ministry published maps going back to 1923 which it said depict "in a vivid and irrefutable way the Turkish illegal unilateral actions and claims".

The maps "document the extent of Turkish revisionism in order to upend the status quo, violating international law... and threatening peace, security and stability in our region", it said.

The two uneasy NATO neighbours have long feuded over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in disputed parts of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

According to Athens, Ankara began "illegal" oil exploration in the northern Aegean back in 1973.

Facing re-election next year amid rampant inflation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly attacked Greece over the islands and has said he would no longer meet Greek leaders.

"Come to your senses," Erdogan said on Thursday in another shot at Greece.

"You should disarm the islands. I am not joking," he said.

Later in a tweet posted in Greek, Erdogan increased the threatening rhetoric: "We warn Greece once again to be careful, to steer clear of dreams, rhetoric and actions that may lead to results it will regret, as was the case a century ago".

In 1922 thousands of ethnic Greeks in Smyrna, now Izmir in western Turkey, were massacred while fleeing victorious Turkish forces who took the city at the end of a three-year war with Greece.

Memories of the "Smyrna Catastrophe" still run deep in Greece where many people have relatives who survived the disaster that continues to nourish Greek animosity towards Turkey.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara would challenge Greece's sovereignty over the islands if it continued to send troops there.

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