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Minister’s island tour irks Ankara

Minister’s island tour irks Ankara

The four-day tour by Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias of islands in the eastern Aegean apparently annoyed Ankara, as the radio harassment of his helicopter on Sunday would suggest. 

The helicopter was flying in the eastern Aegean when Turkish forces sent a radio message saying it was flying in a demilitarized zone and asked it to change direction.

“The tour of 3-5 islands by helicopter does not benefit the Greek people and is not an example of political or military intelligence,” Turkish military sources were quoted as saying by the Anadolu news agency. “With the hostile attitude it shows, Greece will be faced with disappointing results, as in the past,” the sources reportedly said, while also insisting that military activity on islands that were transferred to Greece on the condition of demilitarization is a clear violation of the Lausanne and Paris Treaties. 

Turkey has upped the ante, calling on Greece to demilitarize islands of the eastern Aegean, but appears irritated as it has failed, so far, to find an international audience for the issue raised so emphatically by its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Countries such as the US and the UK, as well as the EU, have already rushed to take a stand on the side of Greece. In the case of the EU the response was slightly delayed and came after Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias informed High Representative Josep Borrell about the issue.

Turkey however appeared unfazed on Monday, and continued its air space violation tactics, with the addition of three UAVs to its fighter jets, indicating a new approach from Ankara.

At the same time, on Monday, American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt affirmed US solidarity with Greece against Turkish claims.

“As we discussed our shared goals for regional stability,” Pyatt tweeted after a meeting with Dendias at the ministry in Athens, “I affirmed what Washington has made clear: The sovereignty of Greece over its islands is not in question.”