Nordic Monitor reported that “a flurry of diplomatic and military activity coupled with increasingly belligerent rhetoric from Turkish officials” could suggest the creation of a “pretext to possibly invade the eastern Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.”
The monitoring network said this uptake in activity could “suggest secret planning has been underway in the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” to create a pretext to possibly invade the islands that are “close to the Turkish mainland.”
“Some of the road markers indicating that a campaign to make a case for such an invasion is already well underway have been noticed in recent communications and remarks of Turkish government officials as well as military activity in the Aegean,” the report said.
“The targets include islands close to Turkey such as Mytilene, Chios, Samos and Icaria, Lemnos and Samothrace,” it continued.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on state broadcaster TRT on February 10 that “these islands were given to Greece with the 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties on the condition that it not arm them.”
“But Greece started to violate that in the ’60s. …. These islands were ceded conditionally.
“If Greece does not stop, the sovereignty of these islands will be questioned…
“If necessary, we will issue a final warning.”
The Turkish foreign minister’s interview on state-run TRT revealed Turkey’s campaign to question the sovereignty of Greece on some islands in the Aegean Sea:
#Turkey sings different song in @NATO alliance. The country's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says statements about #Russia's invasion of #Ukraine are overrated, does not reflect reality. pic.twitter.com/h4WgY6KRuf
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) February 12, 2022
Ankara, according to the Stockholm-based monitoring site, has already brought its claims to the United Nations, notifying the Security Council of supposed Greek violations of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, which established the status of the eastern Aegean Islands.
In a July 13, 2021 letter to the UN Security Council, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, the permanent representative of Turkey to the UN, wrote that “Greece’s continuing deliberate and persistent material breach of the demilitarization provisions of the Lausanne and Paris peace treaties, which are essential to the accomplishment of their object and purpose, constitutes a serious threat to the security of Turkey.”
“Greece is in breach of basic provisions of the treaties under which it acquired sovereignty over the islands, which, from a legal point of view, means that Greece cannot, vis-à-vis Turkey, rely on its title under the same treaties for the purposes of a maritime boundary delimitation,” he added.
In response to Turkey’s claims, Greek Ambassador to the UN Maria Theofili said: “Greece rejects all the Turkish allegations contained in the aforementioned letter with regard to the purported ‘material breach of its demilitarization obligations’, as well as the allegations that Greece’s sovereignty over the Eastern Aegean islands is conditional on their demilitarization, as totally unsubstantiated, arbitrary and in bad faith.”
According to Nordic Monitor, “the Erdoğan government campaign against Greece shifted gears with the conversion of the Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque in July 2020 by a presidential decree.
“The Hagia Sophia opened as a mosque on July 24, the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne, signed between the Allied powers and Turkey, which drew the boundaries of modern Turkey.
“The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hagia Sophia was originally built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral before being converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of what is now Istanbul in 1453.
“President Erdoğan on July 24 attended the first Friday prayer, an official ceremony, at Hagia Sophia, a crowning achievement for him after 18 years at the helm of Turkish politics.”