A Turkish controversy is brewing inside the country’s parliament over who will challenge the Treaty of Lausanne and how Greek the Aegean islands are, at the same time when the debate on the 2018 budget is being held! The opposition questioned the ‘Greekness’ of 18 islands + 1 rocky islet with the Turkish Prime Minister talking about “grey spots” (disputed areas) consisting of 132 islands and similar rocky islets!
The first to speak was the CHP Head, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who accused Erdogan of his statements about the Treaty of Lausanne.
A man who is the head of a state has no right to discuss the Treaty of Lausanne, that defines the borders of Turkey, on the fly. I want to ask Mr. Erdogan “Why did he not refer to the 18 islands? Why did he not mention the 18 islands that are under occupation? Articles 12 and 15 of the Treaty of Lausanne have been clearly violated, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP leader did not stop there but instead, he accused the Turkish government of giving away these 18 islands to Greece! “Neither the Lausanne Treaty nor any other Treaty has given these 18 islands and one rocky islet to Greece. Today there are 13 military units with 5000 Greek soldiers on these islands. My brother (Erdogan), you went to Greece, you spoke about the Treaty of Lausanne, but when it came down to the 18 islands you kept your mouth shut. You gave away the 18 islands, the others (the Greeks) sent their military forces and then you (Erdogan) to them and tell them you want to discuss the Lausanne Treaty. But they have opened the issue to debate. They have (already) occupied the 18 islands. Did you say anything back then? No. And then you return to Turkey as if nothing has ever happened.”
Turkish PM Binali Yildirim was the one responsible to answer to Kılıçdaroğlu on behalf of president Erdogan. So, he actually repeated Turkey’s firm stance regarding these “grey zones in the Aegean”.
Yildirim talks of “132 ‘grey’ islands and uninhabited islets”
The premier himself went years back as he used the statements of Turkey’s former President Suleyman Demirel in order to respond to Kılıçdaroğlu. “In 1998, Demirel has said that the “disputed Aegean islands and rock islets are about 132 in total”. That means that they have not been “identified” as Greek or Turkish by the Treaty of Lausanne. From our side, we say they do not belong to you”. “They (Greeks) say to us ‘they are not yours'”.
“This is all about a past and present dispute” said Yildirim. The Turkish premier used the former president’s words so as to prove that nothing has changed in the Aegean nor has Turkey’s stance, which remains the same even from before the AKP came to power.
“What I would like you to know is that these formations, these islets, have not been included in the Treaty based on the present technical knowledge so, as a result, there is no tangible agreement. The Aegean (Sea) is neither a Greek lake, nor a Turkish one. The Aegean is not an area of dispute but a sea that could help us improve bilateral relations. Turkey will do everything possible so as not to be stripped of its rights”.
Greece violates the rights of the minority in Thrace
Yildirim replied to the opposition about the Lausanne Treaty, too, accusing Greece of violating the rights of the Thrace minority.
“Greece avoids implementing laws for the support of our compatriots, although the Treaty is very clear when it comes to them. It does not event allow the use of the word “Turk”, it prohibits to self-define their identity, it does not allow Muftis’ election. So, how can we be wrong when we say that a Treaty that is not properly implemented in a country relevant to it, ‘should be re-examined’?
Almost on a yearly basis, and while we debate the budget, the Kemal-attached opposition questions the “Greekness” of the 18 Aegean islands and accuses the Erdogan government of giving them to Greece.
Sozcu newspaper has repeatedly reported on the issue and has used maps and statements of former officials who say that the Turkish government has (unconditionally) offered islands belonging to Turkey, to neighbouring Greece. Other papers have published Panos Kammenos’ pictures on the islands in question and have written that “they are under illegal Greek occupation”. Every year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues relevant statements that read “nothing has changed regarding the Aegean status quo from 2002 and until now”…./IBNA