Turkey has reiterated its demands for the demilitarization of sixteen of Greece’s Aegean islands, with the dispute just one aspect of a wider conflict concerning national sovereignty and rights within the region.
In an interview with BBC News from Libya, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar insisted once again, as he has previously, that Greece is in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Akar stated that 16 out of the 23 islands specified in the treaty that are not to be militarized have indeed already been militarized by Greece.
The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace agreement signed during the Lausanne Conference of 1922 to 1923, settling once and for all the original conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Powers.
In addition to defining the borders of the modern Turkish Republic after the country gave up control of the rest of the Ottoman Empire, the treaty also provided for the Greek-Turkish population exchange by allowing unrestricted civilian passage through the Turkish Straits.
For his part, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has recently signified his government’s readiness to participate in an organized dialogue between the European Union and Turkey.
Regarding his recent phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mitsotakis explained how “Everyone understands that it is not good to have absolutely no communication.”
“We have made it clear to Turkey that the continuation of its provocations with regard to Greece and Cyprus cannot but inevitably impact Euro-Turkish relations,” he further added.
Despite Turkey’s insistence that Greece demilitarize the sixteen Aegean islands, the country recently came under fire after 13 Turkish military jets committed 50 violations of Greece’s national airspace on Thursday, flying over various regions and islands in the Aegean.