BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL SEP 26, 2022 –
The U.S. urged NATO allies Greece and Türkiye to “work together” to ensure regional peace and security after the latter criticized Athens for violating international law by deploying armored vehicles to demilitarized Aegean islands.
“Now’s not the time for statements or any actions that could raise tensions between NATO allies,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. “We are encouraging our NATO allies to resolve any disagreements they may have diplomatically. We think we should remain focused on what is a collective threat to all of us, and that’s Russia’s aggression.”
Turkish military drones recorded the deployment of Greek armored vehicles on the islands of Midilli (Lesvos) and Sisam (Samos), which Ankara maintains is in violation of international law. The footage was released on Sunday.
Türkiye on Monday summoned the Greek ambassador and called for an end to violations on Aegean islands and restoring their non-military status, according to the Foreign Ministry.
In the note, the ministry stated that the deployment was another violation of Greece’s obligations under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris. These islands were required to be demilitarized under both treaties, so any troops or weapons on the islands are strictly forbidden.
Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under treaties, saying that such moves frustrate its good faith efforts for peace.
Türkiye and Greece are at odds over a number of issues, including competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.
Ankara accuses Athens of illegally militarizing Greek islands in the East Aegean and questions Greece’s sovereignty over them. There is also a dispute over the exploitation of mineral resources in the Aegean.
Since the beginning of 2022, Greek warplanes have violated Turkish airspace 256 times and harassed Turkish jets on 158 occasions, and Greek coast guard boats also violated Turkish territorial waters 33 times.