Greek-Turkish Relations
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Turkey Says "No" to Greek Military Drills in Samothraki, Ai Stratis, Chios and Kastellorizo

Along with the attack on Israel, Turkey continues its revisionist policy against Greece.

The staffs in Athens proceeded to set aside areas for fire drills in Chios, Ai Strati, Kastellorizio and north of Samothraki. The time commitment of the regions is until November 2

On the occasion of these exercises, Turkey once again raised the issue of demilitarization of these islands.

Turkey is the only country that invokes and demands the demilitarization of the "Eastern Aegean Islands".

As far as militarization is concerned, the status of the Greek islands of the Upper Aegean is governed by international treaties. Particularly:

• the status of the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace is governed by the Lausanne Convention on the Straits of 1923, which was replaced by the Montreux Convention of 1936,

• the status of the islands of Mytilene, Chios, Samos and Ikaria is governed by the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923 and

• the status of the Dodecanese is governed by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947.

Limnos and Samothrace

The demilitarization of the Greek islands of Lemnos and Samothrace - which together with the demilitarization of the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, as well as the Turkish islands of Gokceada, Bozcaada and Tavcan, was originally foreseen by the Lausanne Convention on the Straits of 1923, however, it was repealed by the Montreux Convention of 1936 - which, as expressly mentioned in its preamble, replaced the aforementioned Lausanne Convention in its entirety.

The right of Greece to arm Lemnos and Samothrace was recognized by Turkey, according to the letter addressed to the Greek Prime Minister on May 6, 1936 by the then Turkish Ambassador in Athens Roussen Esref, following instructions from his Government. The Turkish Government reiterated this position when the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Rustu Aras, addressing the Turkish National Assembly on the occasion of the ratification of the Montreux Convention, unreservedly recognized the legal right of Greece to station troops in Lemnos and Samothrace, with his following statements: "The provisions concerning the islands of Lemnos and Samothraki, which belong to our neighboring and friendly country Greece and had been demilitarized pursuant to the Lausanne Convention of 1923, were also abolished by the new Montreux Convention and this pleases us greatly" (Journal of the Proceedings of the Turkish National Assembly, issue 12, July 31/1936, p. 309). Similar assurances were given in this regard, during the same period, by Turkey to the Governments of third countries concerned.

The status of the islands of Mytilene, Chios, Samos and Ikaria

As for the aforementioned islands, nowhere in the Lausanne Peace Treaty is it stipulated that they will be under a demilitarized regime.

The Greek Government only undertook the obligation, in accordance with Article 13 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty, not to install naval bases or fortifications there. In particular, the above article provides for the following:

"To ensure peace, the Greek Government is obliged to observe the following measures on the islands of Mytilene, Chios, Samos and Ikaria:

• The mentioned islands will not be used for the installation of a naval base or for the construction of a fortification project.

• Greek military aircraft will be prohibited from overflying the territory of the Anatolian coast. Accordingly, the Ottoman Government will prohibit its military aircraft from flying over the said islands.

• The Greek military forces on the mentioned islands will be limited to the usual number of those called up for military service, who can be trained on the spot, as well as a force of gendarmerie and police proportional to the force of the entire Greek territory if they existed".

While Greece has until now consistently applied the above provisions, Turkey, despite the fact that it is obliged according to the same article not to allow its military aircraft to fly over the airspace of the Greek islands in question, has repeatedly violated and continues to breach its relevant legal obligations.

On the other hand, the same article allows Greece to maintain a normal number of soldiers called up for military service, who can be trained locally, as well as Gendarmerie and Police forces.

The status of the N.A. Islands (Dodecanese)

The Dodecanese Islands were ceded to Greece "under full sovereignty" by the Paris Peace Convention, between Italy and the Allies, in April 1947. Furthermore, the provisions of said Treaty provide for the demilitarization of these islands: "The above islands shall be demilitarized and remain demilitarized". In the Dodecanese there are some national guard forces, which have been declared in accordance with the provisions of the CFE agreement.

Regarding the Turkish claims for demilitarization of the Dodecanese, it is noted that:

• Turkey is not a party to this 1947 Treaty, which is therefore "res inter alios acta" for it, i.e. a matter concerning other states. According to Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, "a treaty does not create obligations or rights for third countries" other than the contracting parties.

• The prediction of the demilitarization of the Dodecanese was made after a decisive intervention by the Soviet Union and echoes the political expediency of Moscow at that time. It should be noted, however, that demilitarization regimes lost their raison d'être with the creation of the NATO and Warsaw Pact coalitions, as incompatible with the participation of countries in military coalitions. In this context, the demilitarization regime ceased to apply for the Italian islands of Panteleria, Lampedusa, Lampione and Linosa, as well as for W. Germany on the one hand, and Bulgaria, Romania, N. Germany, Hungary and Finland on the other side.

In addition to the above, Greece, like any other sovereign state in the world, cannot waive its natural and legal right to defense in the event of a threat directed against its islands or any other part of its territory. Even more so, at a time when Turkey, in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, threatens it with war in the event that it exercises a legitimate and sovereign right granted to it by international law.

Besides the threat of war, Turkey:

• Invaded Cyprus in 1974, in violation of the provisions of the Treaty of Guarantee for Cyprus, to which Greece is a party, and, despite numerous resolutions to the contrary by the Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly, continues to maintain a significant military power in the occupied territories.

• It systematically violates the Greek national airspace and flies over with military aircraft, often armed, Greek islands of the Aegean and even inhabited ones, which is of particular importance in terms of security issues.

• During the last decades, it maintains significant military units with aerial means and landing craft in areas of the coast of Asia Minor, located opposite the Greek islands, which constitutes a serious threat against Greece.

The aforementioned state of affairs, combined with the threat of war (casus belli) and Turkey's more general revisionist tendency regarding the territorial and legal status of the Greek islands as defined by international treaties and international law in general, obliges and legitimizes Greece to proceed with necessary defense preparation that will allow it to exercise, if necessary, the right of self-defense, which is provided for by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, and to protect the Greek islands.


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