Turkey renews call for demilitarization of islands in letter to UN



With yet another round of exploratory low-level talks set to start between Greece and Turkey on Wednesday, Ankara has renewed calls for the demilitarization of the eastern Aegean islands.


In a letter sent by its Permanent Representative to the United Nations Feridun Sinirlioglu to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on September 30 which was seen by Kathimerini, Turkey accuses Greece of breaching the demilitarization provisions of the 1923 Lausanne and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties.


“Greece’s sovereignty over the islands was and remains dependent upon demilitarization. The contention that Greek sovereignty over the Εastern Aegean islands is not linked to the maintenance of their demilitarized status is devoid of legal basis,” it says.


Sinirlioglu’s document is a response to a letter sent by his Greek counterpart Maria Theofili on July 27.


More specifically, it calls for the removal of Greek troops from the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Ikaria. “As regards Lemnos and Samothrace they are subject to an even stricter regime, owing to their proximity to the Turkish mainland,” it says.


“By militarizing the islands in question, Greece has forfeited its right to assert the opposability to Turkey of [a series of treaties] and the rights which it claims to derive from them,” it says.


Analysts say the argument put forward in the letter, which essentially hinges the sovereignty of the Aegean islands to their demilitarization, is legally unfounded. They say that Turkish efforts to stoke tensions between the two sides reflect Anakra’s unease over Greece’s recent defense deal with France.