Amid Turkey’s dispute over Greece’s sovereignty over its eastern Aegean islands, Washington issued a clear and direct rejection of Ankara’s unfounded claims on Friday.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected. Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is not in question,” a US State Department spokesman said a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu cited the 1923 Lausanne treaties and Paris in 1947 to declare that the sovereignty of these islands was conditional on Greece not militarizing them.
Greece has always rejected these claims, responding that as long as there is a Turkish military threat to these islands, they will not be demilitarized.
On Thursday, Cavusoglu said Turkey had sent a letter to the United Nations condemning alleged breaches of the Lausanne and Paris treaties.
“If Greece does not change its position, then the sovereignty of these islands is questionable,” he added.
The Greek Foreign Ministry rejected these latest demands for demilitarization, saying they “go beyond mere logic”.
However, based on Cavusoglu’s announcements, Ankara will most likely seek to internationalize the issue, addressing the signatory countries of the Lausanne and Paris Treaties.
The Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 by France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, Turkey and the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
The 1947 Treaty of Paris, which decided among other things to ratify the transfer of the Dodecanese from Italy to Greece, was signed by the Soviet Union (USSR), the United Kingdom, the United States, China, France, Australia, Belgium, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, South Africa and Yugoslavia.
If Turkey chooses the path of internationalization, it would involve the member countries of NATO and Germany, which was absent from the two tables where Lausanne and Paris were anchored.
Article 15 of the Treaty of Lausanne ratifies the transfer of sovereignty of the islands to Greece. Ankara cannot invoke the 1947 Paris Treaty because it was not a party to it. As for the islands of the Dodecanese, they had already renounced all claims to Lausanne.