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Turkiye calls on Greece to demilitarise Eastern Aegean islands

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkiye on 8 February 2022 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkiye on 8 February 2022 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

Citing Turkiye's letters to the UN on Eastern Aegean islands classified as demilitarised under long-standing international treaties, the nation's Foreign Minister on Thursday said Ankara is closely monitoring the situation, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Saying that the islands were placed under Greek sovereignty as part of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties on the condition of demilitarisation, Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a televised interview that Greece has been violating this condition for decades, since the 1960s.

Last July, Turkiye's UN Ambassador, Feridun Siniroglu, wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, decrying Greece's "continuous flagrant violations" in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, adding that Greece has run afoul of its "solemn treaty obligations" in those waters, including violations of "basic provisions" in the Lausanne and Paris Peace Treaties that islands ceded to Athens would remain demilitarised.

READ: Renewed scrutiny on Europe's border push backs following death of 19 refugees in Turkey

"If Greece does not end this (remilitarisation of islands), the sovereignty of islands will be called into question," Cavusoglu stressed.

He added that Turkiye will begin discussions on the sovereignty of the islands on international platforms if Greece continues breaching the treaties.

Ukraine and Russia

On the Ukraine-Russia dispute, Cavusoglu said Turkiye, as a side that has good relations with both countries, has taken steps to reduce tensions.

"Our contacts are ongoing. Some of these contacts are visible, some are back-stage diplomatic efforts," he added.

Saying that the real situation of the Ukraine-Russia crisis is tense, fragile and troubled with the possibility of conflict, he added that the situation is "over exaggerated" by some Western countries.

As Turkiye is on good terms with both countries, its efforts are noticed and appreciated by everyone, he said.

READ: UN Refugee Agency 'shocked' over migrant deaths on Greek-Turkish border

Cavusoglu also commented on the new dialogue process with Israel's new government, saying that the current Israeli administration's Foreign Minister believes in a two-state solution.

He also underlined that the new dialogue process between Turkiye and Israel does not mean "giving up on Palestine's cause."

Tensions in Turkiye's relations with Israel, which rose with the 2010 Israeli attack on the "Mavi Marmara" ship, continue to be affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In late 2021, high-level phone conversations were held between Turkiye and Israel.

On 3 February, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced an upcoming visit by the Israeli President to Turkiye, set for March.

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Europe & RussiaGreeceInternational OrganisationsNewsRussiaTurkeyUkraineUN
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