Greek militarisation of Eastern Aegean islands in 5 questions

Greek militarisation of Eastern Aegean islands in 5 questions

The proximity of the islands to the mainland of Türkiye is an attention-grabber, and the most evident case is the island of Meis, which is only 2.1 kilometres to the Turkish mainland.

The proximity of the islands to the mainland of Türkiye is an attention-grabber, and the most evident case is the island of Meis, which is only 2.1 kilometres to the Turkish mainland. (AA)

Athens persists in violating the non-military status of the Eastern Aegean islands as Ankara continues to express concerns that the militarisation of the islands poses a serious threat to Türkiye's security.

Not denying the militarisation of the islands in question, Greece argues that its policy is a "right of self-defence". But the move is in violation of international treaties to which Athens is a party.

Here are details on the binding status of international agreements on the non-military status of the Eastern Aegean islands, the Greek policy of militarisation of the islands, and Türkiye's steps in response.

Which Eastern Aegean islands are in question?

Under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the islands of Thasos, Samotraki, Lemnos, Aya Evstratios, Lesvos, Chios, Psara, Samos, and Ikaria were decided to remain under Greek sovereignty on condition that they remain in non-military status.

The islands of Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros, Astypalaia, Tilos, Chalki, Karpathos, Kassos, Symi, Rhodes, and Meis were handed over to Greek sovereignty by Italy provided that they were demilitarised under the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.

The proximity of Eastern Aegean islands to the mainland of Türkiye is an attention-grabber, and the most evident case is the island of Meis, which is only 2.1 kilometres (1.3 miles) to the Turkish mainland whereas its distance to the Greek mainland is 582 km (361 miles).

The island of Meis is not the only one that could be observed from geographical proximity from Türkiye's Aegean coasts, as the same goes for some larger islands such as Lesvos, Samos, and Chios at varying distances of up to 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the Turkish mainland.

The fact that these islands are at an arm's length from the Turkish mainland is the main reason behind the adoption of the non-military status in the first place as they could pose a potential threat to Türkiye's security.


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  1. Athens persists in violating the non-military status of the Eastern Aegean islands as Ankara continues to express concerns that the militarisation of the islands poses a serious threat to Türkiye's security.

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