Kılıçdaroğlu: Erdoğan's opponent who wants to "liberate" the Aegean islands from Greece

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

The leader of the People's Republican Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was officially nominated as the joint candidate of the united opposition in Turkey to face President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the presidential elections, expected to be held in May.

The positions Kılıçdaroğlu will publicly express will be of interest to Greece.

The tension between Ankara and Athens may have died down recently, due to the recent deadly earthquakes, however, it is taken for granted that Turkey is not going to abandon the provocative narrative it has adopted in recent years and aimed directly at Greek sovereignty in the Aegean islands.

For today's narrative against Greece, which is now a part of Turkish foreign policy, the Kemalist CHP and its leader, who although theoretically is "secular" and "pro-Western", have nevertheless in the past been against Greece. They even called on Erdoğan to take military action to seize the Greek islands.

"Let (Erdoğan) look at the 16 islands that were handed over to him during his time and where the Greek flag was raised," Kılıçdaroğlu commented in 2016 when Erdoğan argued that the Treaty of Lausanne - by which the Aegean islands were granted to Greece - was a "defeat" for Turkey.

A year later, the leader of the CHP declared, responding to the statements of the then Greek Minister of Defence Panos Kammenos, that if he comes to power he will occupy Greek islands.

"Greece has occupied 18 Aegean islands, plus one rocky island. The Greek Minister of Defense, Panos Kammenos, replied to me, 'Come and get them' (Molon Lave). I will come in 2019 and take all these islands," he said.

Last June, commenting on Erdoğan's "we will come suddenly one night", Kılıçdaroğlu accused the Turkish president of being lenient towards Greece, claiming that he "does things in Greece" , but "he doesn't do anything about the occupied islands".

Throughout time, the Kemalists, with Kılıçdaroğlu as their main spokesperson today, have been characterised by the most extreme rhetoric and policy against Greece, especially regarding the Aegean islands.

This includes questioning the right for island's to have a continental shelf, a casus belli if Greece extends its territorial waters to 12 miles (as permitted by international law), the "EGAYDAAK" list - with the 152 Greek islands and islet a disputed by the Turks, demands to demilitarise the islands and, of course, the Imia crisis in 1996.

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