by Aggelos Skordas
“The Kardak (Imia) Rocks and their territorial waters and airspace above them are exclusively under Turkish sovereignty”, a statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, in what is received both in Athens and Brussels as yet another episode in Ankara’s attempt to escalate tension with Greece and the European Union ahead of the upcoming snap elections the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Wednesday.
The response to the Turkish provocation, based on the status of the two islets that brought the two countries on the brink of war in 1996, came from the Greek government’s spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos who declared that “the borders in the Aegean are not disputable”. Moreover, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a strict statement noting that “even as the European Union is calling on Turkey to respect European law, Ankara answers with an announcement that provocatively undermines it. It is repeating a patently illegal position, ignoring the fact that the legal status of the Aegean is absolutely guaranteed by international law. Greek sovereignty over Imia is clear and indisputable, in accordance with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the Italian-Turkish accords of 1932, and the 1947 Treaty of Paris”.
On his behalf National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, addressing the Parliament’s cross-party committee for defense and foreign affairs, said that the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which shaped the borders between Greece and Turkey, “is binding for us, NATO and Turkey”.
Athens strong reaction to the Turkish attempt to reshape the borders with Greece and create “grey zones” in the Aegean came also from President Prokopis Pavlopoulos who warned Ankara to respect the sovereignty of its neighbors. “We always want to have good relations, we favor its [Turkey’s] European perspective but this requires respect of the European Union and Greece’s borders and on that we are not willing to make concessions”, he stressed during a meeting with the Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik at the Presidential Mansion.