Last week, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the sovereignty of some Greek islands was debatable if Greece fails to “demilitarise” them. The comments sparked fury in Brussels where officials promptly came to the defence of member state Greece.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the EU’s European External Action Service said: “Comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in a recent interview, disputing Greece’s sovereignty over some of its islands, are counterproductive and contradict de-escalation efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean called for in the Conclusions of the European Council from 23 March and 24-25 June 2021.
“Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is unquestionable. Turkey should respect it, refrain from provocative statements and actions in this regard, commit unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and work to settle any disputes peacefully.
“International agreements must be respected.”
Speaking to TRT television, Mr Cavusoglu warned: “We sent two letters to the UN.
“We sent them because Greece is violating the demilitarisation regime of the islands.
“These islands were ceded to Greece by the Treaties of Lausanne of 1923 and Paris of 1947 on the condition of their demilitarisation.
“But Greece has been violating this regime since the 1960s.
“In the letter we wrote we mentioned that Greece violates the terms of the treaties, these islands were given under conditions, and if Greece does not change its position, then the sovereignty of these islands is debatable.”
READ MORE: British intelligence infuriates Vladimir Putin over invasion leaks
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on February 2 that migrants had been “pushed back by Greek Border Units, stripped off from their clothes and shoes have frozen to death”.
He added that the EU is “remediless, weak and void of humane feelings”.
In response, Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi said: “The statements of the Turkish leadership regarding the tragic incident in which people lost their lives in Turkey were unacceptable. It is Turkey’s responsibility to prevent illegal departures.”
He added that the “migrants in questions never reached the border”.