Turkey says Greece breaking international law by arming 16 islands

Greece has been violating international law by arming 16 of 23 islands placed under demilitarised status, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

Akar said that problems between Turkey and Greece should be solved on the basis of good neighbourly relations. 

“As we continuously say during our contacts with our counterparts, we will never let our rights be violated,” Akar, who previously led Turkey’s armed forces as chief of staff, said on a visit to the facilities of Turkish defence contractor Roketsan, according to Anadolu. 

“This is not a threat but saying that we favour good neighbourliness is also not a weakness,” he said.

Turkey therefore defends its rights against Greek claims to territorial waters in the Aegean and to 23 islands whose status has been set by international agreements, Akar said.

“Though those islands have a non-military status, 16 of them have been armed by violating relevant treaties,” he said. 

Akar said Turkey would also continue to defend the rights of people living in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway state in the north of the divided Mediterranean island recognised only by Turkey.

No plans among countries concerning the east Mediterranean or Cyprus can exist without including Turkey, Akar said, referring to escalated political and military tensions in the region over oil and natural gas rights near Cyprus.