Turkish diplomat: “The Aegean Islands clearly belong to Greece”

Turkish diplomat Yalım Eralp

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the pro-government establishment openly threaten war against Greece to justify an invasion of the Aegean Islands, Turkish diplomat Yalım Eralp stated in an interview that “Greece is right” in the current tension.

“Greece is right” on the issue of the Aegean islands, he said, triggering reactions from the pro-government media that have “flagged” the narrative of “questionable Greek sovereignty” by adopting Ankara’s delusion and revisionism.

“There are many claims of sovereignty that the islands were given on condition. There is no such thing,” he said.

“The islands that are beyond three miles were given to Greece and Turkey has accepted it for many years,” Eralp said in a televised statement. “Putting this into question now – in diplomacy – makes Turkey an attacking state.

“If I remember correctly, there are over 2,400 islands and islets in the Mediterranean.

“A treaty to count all these islands is out of the question. We have not seen it anywhere.

“[The Treaty of] Lausanne, the islands beyond three miles, gave it to Greece, whether we like it or not.”

With a rich diplomatic biography, Yalım Eralp, who served as an advisor to Mesut Yılmaz and Tansu Çiller and, among others, served in the Turkish Permanent Mission to the United Nations and NATO, at the Washington embassies, argued that objecting to this would make Turkey an “aggressive state”.

Greece is not going to indulge in constant statements that will fuel the escalation of tension with Turkey, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Friday from Thessaloniki, noting that the main lesson learnt from the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that revisionism is leading nowhere.

“I think that the Greek side has shown its intentions. We are not going to indulge in insulting statements, irregular, illegal, irrational claims, and allegations beyond the limits of international law in a constant escalation with neighbour Turkey,” Dendias said answering a question before the start of the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) members.

He added: “We always look forward to resolving all disputes within the framework of International Law, the International Law of the Sea, with a clear priority of protecting the territorial integrity of all states.

“What I think is important, for Europe, for the world, is to understand that revisionism is leading nowhere.

“I think that this is the great lesson learnt after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so that we can collaborate on the real basis of the problems, namely the creation of prosperity and cooperation among the peoples.”

For his part, government spokesman Yiannis Economou said on Thursday that the new statements by the Turkish leadership are “historically unfounded and baseless tales that cannot challenge and, much less so, replace International Law and international treaties.”

Responding to media reports on further claims by the Turkish president that Greece should respect treaties and demilitarise the Greek islands, the spokesman underlined that “overall nothing can hurt our sovereign rights and our national sovereignty in any way.”

Economou then called on Turkey “to stop the tactic of provocation and comprehend that the only path is a responsible and sincere communication in the framework of International Law and absolute respect of sovereignty.”

The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday published a series of 16 maps on its website that seek to demonstrate and explain the illegal and revisionist nature of Turkey’s assertions and actions concerning the Greek islands from 1973 until the present.

“In an effort to increase the wider public’s awareness of Turkish revisionism, the attached maps depict in a vivid and irrefutable way the Turkish illegal unilateral actions and claims,” a foreign ministry announcement said.

As the announcement explained, the maps begin chronologically with the status quo enshrined in the Lausanne (1923) and Paris (1947) Treaties.

“Turkish claims are then presented, beginning with the illegal licensing of the Turkish state oil company (TPAO) for exploration of oil fields in areas of the Greek continental shelf in the North Aegean in 1973, and continuing with the attempt to usurp Greece’s responsibility for Search and Rescue services in half of the Aegean in the 1980s, the “ grey zone” theory in the 1990s, further escalation with the granting of new licenses in the Eastern Mediterranean, the endorsement of the “ Blue Homeland” as an official doctrine, the “ Turkish-Libyan Memorandum”, reaching as far as the Turkish theory of the demilitarization status of the Aegean islands.

The above-mentioned maps document the extent of Turkish revisionism in order to upend the status quo, violating International Law and the International Law of the Sea, and threatening peace, security and stability in our region,” the ministry said.

The 16 maps with translations in English can be viewed in their full on the ministry’s website at the following LINK.

READ MORE: Erdoğan tweets in Greek, Tsipras responds in Turkish: “Greece will protect its sovereignty against any threat.”