The Turkish Foreign Ministry has criticised Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos over his questioning of the demilitarised status of a group of southeastern Aegean islands.
Visiting the islands of Dodecanese on 6 March, Pavlopoulos appeared to suggest that Athens could reinterpret the issue of demilitarisation for purposes of “preventive defence.”
In a written statement issued late on Wednesday, the ministry acknowledged that Pavlopoulos said Greece wants to develop good neighbourly relations with Turkey, but it expressed concern over his remarks on the demilitarised status of the Aegean Islands.
“Our objection to Greece’s militarisation of these islands, threatening the security of Turkey, is a basic right granted to our country under the framework of international law,” read the statement.
Ankara accused Athens of “hiding behind an imagined Turkish threat” in its bid to challenge the demilitarised status.
The ministry recalled that the matter of demilitarisation is predicated on internationally binding legal instruments beginning with the Treaty of Lausanne and culminating in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.
The latest Aegean dispute is part of a set of interrelated controversial issues between Greece and Turkey over sovereignty and related rights in the area of the Aegean since the 1970s.