Turkey warns Greece over sending troops to Kastellorizo

Ankara rejects any "illegal changes" to the status of Kastellorizo, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, following news footage showing Greek soldiers disembarking from a ferry to the island on Friday.

Footage from Karar Newspaper
Footage from Karar Newspaper

The Greek island of Kastellorizo lies less than 3 kilometres off the southern coast of Turkey.

The statement given by ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy emphasised that the island had been disarmed in accordance with the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, which were signed following the end of World War II in 1945.

Turkey is not a party to the treaty. But both sides have legal arguments over the issue. 

If the reported news is confirmed, this is yet another testament showing Greece's "lawlessness" and "ulterior motives", Aksoy said.

On August 28, Agence France Presse published a photo with the caption saying: “Greek soldiers and tourists disembark from a ferry at the port of the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo, the most southeastern inhabited Greek island in the Dodecanese, situated two kilometres off the south coast of Turkey on August 28, 2020.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey will not permit ''such provocations to reach any success, which are taking place right across our coasts".

"Greece will be the party who will lose due to such escalating steps in the region," it said in a statement.

Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said on Saturday that Greece’s plans to expand its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles would be a cause for war. A similar sentiment was voiced by Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu hours later.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry also slammed French President Emmanuel Macron for saying he had adopted a "red-line policy" in the eastern Mediterranean backing Greece against Turkey over the exploration of energy resources, Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

"Those who think they drew a red line in the Eastern Mediterranean are challenging our country's resolute stance," the ministry said. "If there is a red line in the region, it belongs to Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots based on international law."

"The period of determining their imperialist understanding by drawing lines on maps is over," it said referring to France's colonial past.

Tension has risen between the NATO allies after Ankara sent the Oruç Reis research vessel escorted by Turkish warships to a disputed area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete on Aug. 10.

Athens responded to the move by sending naval and air units to push back the Oruç Reis and conducting military drills with Cyprus and France in the area, creating a standoff at risk of escalating into a direct confrontation with Turkey.


(Updates with Turkish Foreign Ministry response to French President Emmanuel Macron statement on Friday)