It all started weeks ago in southern Evros near Feres, when Turkish military-police forces there entered a small pocket of Greek territory and refuse to leave the area. This area, in which Turkish men from the security forces appear to have set up a tent and change shifts, belongs to Greece, as shown on Google Maps.
However, with the changes that have taken place in the flow of the Evros River and taking advantage of the current drop in water levels due to the summer season, Turkey is rushing to set foot in this area, presenting it as its own.
British newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Express have even reported on the issue, using headlines like “LAND GRAB – Turkish troops invade Greece and occupy a small patch of land on contested border”. Greek City Times was the first media site to publish about this issue in the English language, titled “Turkey has invaded and occupied Greek territory at Evros”.
Speaking to ERT, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias had attempted to downplay the issue.
“I hope we can reach an agreement [with Turkey]. There is a question of the exact limit due to the changes in the riverbed. I do not like to create tensions between two countries, which are allies. These things are solved without a single column being written in a newspaper. The appropriate measurements can be made well and, with a joint committee, all these things can be resolved. We are talking about a few tens of meters,” the head of the Greek Foreign Ministry said on May 20, referring to the specific issue for which, however, the Greek side no longer seemed to have any other options but to take a step forward.
However, he took it one step further by saying the news about Turkey occupying land at Evros is the fake news of “extreme right-wing sites.” A bizarre claim considering that Greece’s biggest newspapers like Kathemerini and Ethnos, as well as British newspapers, have all reported the news.
In fact, Athens has taken diplomatic steps towards Turkey following an order from Dendias on the issue that has arisen in southern Evros, according to diplomatic sources cited by Kathimerini.
So either Kathimerini is lying about their diplomatic sources or Dendias is lying that Turkey’s occupation of Greek land is “fake news.”
The leaders of SYRIZA even took a stronger stance than Dendias, saying that Dendias “downplayed the issue.”
“Yesterday, the foreign minister downplayed the issue, stressing that he did not intend to escalate tensions over an issue that could be resolved by a joint committee,” said opposition Defence Minister Thodoris Dritsas and opposition Foreign Minister George Katrougalos in a joint statement. “Do you think that the competent committee should have been convened before the Army Geographical Service took action in the area? What is the position of the Ministry of Defence on this issue?”
In conclusion, they emphasise that these issues require knowledge, composure, prudence and determination and warn that “a lack of strategy and the diplomatic vacuum that emerges in relation to Turkey poses obvious risks to the country.”
The leader of “Pratto” and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Nikos Kotzias, also commented on the issue, stating on Twitter that every part of Greece needs to be defended.
“The Turks occupied 16 acres of Greek territory. They raised their flag. The government speaks disparagingly of Greek land. It promotes the theory of the “slightly pregnant” in matters of sovereignty and territorial integrity. It needs an army. We must defend every inch of Greece,” he said on Twitter.
Κατέλαβαν Τούρκοι 16 στρέμματα ελληνικού εδάφους. Εγκαταστήσαν σημαία τους. Η κυβέρνηση μιλά υποτιμητικά για ελληνική γη. Προωθεί τη θεωρία της «ολίγον εγκύου» σε θέματα κυριαρχίας και εδαφική ακεραιότητας. Χρειάζεται πανστρατιά. Οφείλουμε να υπερασπιστούμε κάθε σπιθαμή Ελλάδας
— Nikos Kotzias (@NikosKotzias) May 22, 2020
Although Kotzias claims 16 acres of Greek territory is occupied by Turkey, Twitter users have discovered that the true number is 307 acres.
Εντω μεταξύ, το συγκεκριμένο τμήμα έχει εμβαδόν 307 στρέμματα pic.twitter.com/I0OdJ8mhp6
— Shark αστικός (@iosif3rd) May 22, 2020