Turkish defense minister urges Greece for disarmament of Aegean Island
Turkey expects Greece to adopt peaceful political solutions rather than aggressive ones, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on July 27, calling for the disarmament of the Greek islands that have non-military status through treaties.
“We always tell our Greek neighbors that we favor finding political solutions to problems through peace, tranquility and dialogue within the scope of agreements. Our Greek neighbors, on the other hand, have not given up on provocative statements and aggressive rhetoric,” the minister said during his visit to Turkey’s Syrian border for inspection of Turkish troops.
Citing the militarization efforts of Greece on its islands in the Aegean, Akar said, “Our Greek neighbors have an aggressive attitude to lay claim to them as well.”
“There is the  Lausanne agreement and also the  Paris agreement. Our Greek neighbors tend to ignore and neglect even these. This is unacceptable,” Akar stated.
“There are islands that have non-military status through treaties. The parties made this agreement and said, ‘These islands can’t be armed; they will have non-military status,’ and we agreed to this. Now they are getting armed,” the minister said.
Greeks say, “There is a threat,” Akar said, adding, “There is never any threat. Turkey does not have any aggressive attitude towards Greece at the moment. We call it dialogue, international agreements, the law, conventions. However, this peaceful approach of ours is constantly turned upside down with provocative statements.”
Akar reacted to Greece’s purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France and said, “Athens is in the midst of an “arms race.”
“They buy planes, weapons, equipment. [But] it is not possible to change the balance of power with three or five used aircraft,” he said.
Emphasizing that Turkey continues to hold consultative talks with Greece as well as deconfliction talks through NATO, Akar said they had three meetings so far.
Ankara sincerely invites them to hold the fourth meeting in Ankara and expects Greek neighbors to support peaceful solutions and thus make the Aegean and Mediterranean seas of peace and contribute to the welfare of the parties, he said.
“Otherwise, it makes no sense for Greece, which is in so much debt, to deal a blow to the welfare of its people with additional expenses. Because we favor the peoples of the two countries living in peace and prosperity in good neighborly relations. All our work is directed towards this,” he added.
The minister also decried how Athens “violated” a long-standing bilateral agreement under which no naval exercises are held during tourism season or the national days and holidays of both sides.
“Unfortunately, our Greek neighbors ignore this and violate it,” he said, citing Greece’s navigational alert, or Navtex, for exercises conducted during tourist season and Turkish holidays.
Turkey’s call for peace, international law and good neighborliness should not be mistaken for weakness, Akar said, expressing determination to protect and safeguard the country’s rights and interests in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus as well as the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey will not allow “any fait accompli” in the region, he stressed.