Turkey breaks overflights record, accuses Greece of arming islands - Kathimerini

Turkey has smashed its record of fighter jet flights over the Aegean this year and has accused Greece of violating the Lausanne Treaty by arming its islands, Greek daily Kathimerini said.

In the first four months of 2020 alone, Turkish fighter jets completed a record 217 Aegean overflights. The next highest number was in 2019, with a total of 124 overflights recorded during the entire year, the newspaper said.

Greece raised the issue during Wednesday’s NATO teleconference summit of defence ministers, said Kathimerini.

On Thursday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar accused Greece of breaching international law by keeping troops on the eastern Aegean islands and said Turkey would not tolerate any violations of its rights. 

“While our neighbour talks about international law and accuses us without any truth of harassment, it is violating the Treaty of Lausanne. For example, although the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty were explicit, it has armed the islands, whose demilitarised status has been agreed since 1936,” Kathimerini quoted Akar as saying in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Sözcü.

The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne defined the borders of the modern Turkish Republic following the end of Turkey’s War of Independence. 

In the last two months, Turkish fighter jets have focused on flying over larger inhabited islands such as Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and over the River Evros land border. 

Kathimerini said there were more Turkish overflights on Wednesday, in violation of the moratorium over such actions during the holidays such as the Easter Week.