Nov 06 2017

Greek-Egyptian military exercises irritate Turkey

Greece and Egypt completed a six-day joint air and naval military exercise off the Greek island of Rhodes, leading Turkey to issue a diplomatic protest.

The Medusa 5 exercises, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, involved landing ships, frigates, submarines, warplanes and helicopters. Greek Minister of Defence Panos Kammenos and high-ranking commanders from both countries attended the exercises on Nov. 2. You can watch the video of the exercise here.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry statement called the exercises a “hostile act” that violated the 1947 Treaty of Paris, which it said prohibits any kind of military activities on Rhodes.

“Therefore, the aforementioned military training on the island is a clear violation of international law,” the statement said. “We emphasise our expectation that Greece, as a neighbouring country, refrain from such hostile acts that are at the same time contrary to international law. We also call on third parties not to take part in those violations committed by Greece.”

Turkey has a long and rocky relationship with Greece over territory, Cyprus and minority rights. The Turkish government has been at odds with Egypt since the 2013 overthrow of its Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Mursi, who was supported by Turkey.

The Greek Dailyhellas website said a Turkish intelligence ship had attempted to approach the area of the exercise to collect information, but was blocked. The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini said a Turkish Coast Guard helicopter also flew over the uninhabited islet of Kardak, over which the two countries almost went to war in 1996.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry called on Turkey to respect international law. It said in a . statement “Like every other sovereign state, Greece considers self-evident the right to take the necessary measures for the effective defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.”

“Finally, we remind our neighbouring country that it is not a signatory to, and thus derives no right from, the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty,” it said.

Rhodes and the other Dodecanese islands were ceded to Greece from Italy in the 1947 Treaty of Paris. It said: “The islands shall be and shall remain demilitarised”.

Greece says this condition was imposed on it and says it has not ceded its right to defend its territory