President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized Greek officials for what he called a “hypocritical” stance on Sunday, as he said they have decided to refrain from making anti-Turkey statements amid tensions in the Aegean over the disarmament of demilitarized islands.
Speaking to a group of youth in the eastern Van province, Erdoğan said Greek President Kyriakos Mitsotakis had requested to hold a meeting before, but instead went to the U.S. and made controversial remarks against Turkey.
He criticized Athens for claiming that the U.S. bases were built against the Russian threat, but has done nothing against Moscow when it launched the invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday, Erdoğan warned Greek officials from avoiding statements and moves they will regret.
Turkey is demanding that Greece demilitarize its eastern islands, maintaining the action is required under 20th-century treaties that ceded sovereignty of the islands to Greece.
The Greek government calls the demand a deliberate misinterpretation and has accused Turkey, a fellow NATO member, of stepping up hostile actions in the area.
Starting from the Treaty of London in 1913, the militarization of the eastern Aegean islands was restricted and their demilitarized status was confirmed with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The Lausanne pact established a political balance between the two countries by harmonizing vital interests, including those in the Aegean.
The 1947 Treaty of Paris, which ceded the Dodecanese islands from Italy to Greece, also confirmed their demilitarized status.
However, Greece argues that the 1936 Montreux Convention on Turkish Straits should be applied in this case, while Ankara says Greece’s obligation to disarm the islands remains unchanged under the Montreux Convention, highlighting that there is no provision that differentiates it from the Treaty of Lausanne on the issue.
Meanwhile, the president also said he may hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss steps to be taken for the grain export corridor.
Turkey is involved in efforts for the establishment of the U.N.-led mechanism that would free Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and allow as much as 25 million tons of grain sitting in silos to be shipped out. Turkey would facilitate and protect the transport of the grain in the Black Sea, officials have said.
Ankara, which has good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow, had previously said it is ready to take on a role within an “observation mechanism” based in Istanbul if a deal is reached.