Turkey will not allow Greece to carry out provocations by building up arms on a legally demilitarized island in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.
In response to a question about reports on Greece sending military supplies to the island of Kastellorizo (Meis in Turkish), Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said the island has had a demilitarized status since the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties and Turkey will not authorize such provocations to be carried out across its shores and rejects attempts to change the island’s status.
The island of Kastellorizo is only 2 kilometers from the Turkish shore.
“If the press reports are true, this is a new indicator of Greece’s lawlessness and its true intentions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Aksoy said, adding that such provocative acts will not benefit Athens.
“Greece will be the one to lose if it continues to take steps that will heighten tensions in the region,” the spokesman said, as he noted that Turkey is determined to protect all of its rights and interests in line with international law.
Aksoy also responded to recent remarks by French President Emanuel Macron, who claimed that he set red lines with Turkey because the country respects “acts” rather than “words.”
“When it comes to Mediterranean sovereignty, I have to be consistent in deeds and words. I can tell you that the Turks only consider and respect that. If you say words that are not followed by acts … What France did this summer was important: it’s a red line policy. I did it in Syria,” Macron said on Friday.
Aksoy said Macron, who “thinks” he set red lines with Ankara, will be met with Turkey’s resolute stance regarding Eastern Mediterranean.
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“It is about time that those who get above themselves face the truth. The period when they dictated their imperialist goals by drawing lines on maps is over,” Aksoy said.
The foreign ministry spokesperson argued that the only way to resolve the ongoing crisis in the region is by establishing dialogue and cooperation among neighboring countries, rather than provocations by exterritorial actors.
Since the discovery of significant gas reserves in the region a decade ago, countries have been engaged in renewed disputes over maritime borders, while international law presents few remedies. The deepening rift between Turkey and Greece has surfaced with Turkey’s decision to enhance energy exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the deal Ankara made with Libya’s official government.
France has been supporting Greece in the crisis and joined Italy, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in a three-day air and sea military exercises in the region last week.
The Turkish government disputes Greece’s claim to exclusive rights, arguing that islands should not be included in calculating sea boundaries between countries.
Ankara criticizes Greece for its “maximalist” position, claiming that the tiny island of Kastellorizo, which is about 580 km away from the Greek mainland, should have a 40,000 square km continental shelf area, which is almost like half of Turkey’s Gulf of Antalya.
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