Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially announced Ankara’s doubt in the Greek sovereignty on the islands of the Aegean Sea and for one more time he confirmed Turkey’s aspirations and efforts to use the “grey zones” in order to create a fait a compli.
Erdogan sharply criticized the Lausanne Treaty which largely gave Turkey its present borders and suggested that Turkey was blackmailed to accept it and therefore the Treaty was “presented as a victory”, where there was none.
Speaking at a 27th gathering with village chiefs in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said that some had tried to present the Treaty of Lausanne as a victory. In his speech, Erdogan mingled patriotic and nationalist fanfares having some wondering whether he is preparing the war to ‘restore’ the historical borders of his country.
“July 15 [coup attempt] is the second War of Independence for the Turkish nation. Let us know it like that. They [threatened] us with Sèvres in 1920 and persuaded us to [accept] Lausanne in 1923. Some tried to deceive us by presenting Lausanne as victory. In Lausanne, we gave away the [now-Greek] islands that you could shout across to,” he said.
“We are still struggling about what the continental shelf will be, and what will be in the air and the land. The reason for this is those who sat at the table for that treaty. Those who sat there did not do [us] justice, and we are reaping those troubles right now. If this coup had succeeded, they would have given us a treaty that would have made us long for Sèvres,” he added.
In July, Erdoğan had said the Treaty of Lausanne was the title deed of the republic in a message issued on the 93rd anniversary of its signing.
“The victory, which our glorious nation gained by faith, courage and sacrifice, was registered by transferring it to the ground of diplomatic and international law with the Treaty of Lausanne. This treatment is the title deed of our newly founded state,” Erdoğan said in his message. (HurriyetDailyNews)
The Treaty of Lausanne was signed on July 24, 1923 between Greece and Turkey and is regarded as the final treaty concluding World War I. It secured the foundation of the modern Republic of Turkey after the War of Independence.
The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace treaty signed in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 July 1923. It officially settled the conflict that had originally existed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied British Empire, French Republic, Kingdom of Italy, Empire of Japan, Kingdom of Greece, and the Kingdom of Romania since the onset of World War I.
The Treaty of Lausanne the result of a second attempt at peace after the failed Treaty of Sèvres, signed in 1920 and imposed to Ottoman Empire by the powers of Antente (Britain, France and Italy.) Through the Treaty of Sevres, the Ottoman Empire would have suffered significant loss of territory.
Turkey under the Treaty of Sevres
The Treaty of Sevres was signed but was later rejected by the Turkish national movement of Mustafa Kemla Ataturk who fought against the previous terms and significant loss of territory. The Treaty of Lausanne ended the conflict and defined the borders of the modern Turkish Republic. In the treaty, Turkey gave up all claims to the remainder of the Ottoman Empire and in return the Allies recognized Turkish sovereignty within its new borders
Turkey’s borders under the Treaty of Lausanne
The treaty provided for the independence of the Republic of Turkey but also for the protection of the Greek Orthodox Christian minority in Turkey and the Muslim minority in Greece. However, most of the Christian population of Turkey and the Turkish population of Greece had already been deported under the earlier Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations signed by Greece and Turkey in 1923, while more than a million Greeks were forced to flee to Greece during the Turkish independence war in 1922.
The treaty delimited the boundaries of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey; formally ceded all Turkish claims on the Dodecanese Islands in the eastern Aegean Sea; Cyprus (the North illegaly occupied by Turkey since 1974), also on Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iraq incl Mosul and Libya.
Erdogan’s statements triggered angry reactions in Turkish social-democratic opposition CH, the party of the founder of modern Turkey Ataturk.
Baskin Oran, Professor for International Relations said that “criticizing the Treaty of Lausanne is common among nationalists in Turkey” and that the criticism has “less to do with the Greek islands but rather with the Kurdish conflict and the oil-rich Mosul [in Northern Irak].”
Oran said that “Turkey did not want the Dodecanese islands in 1923 “because 90% of the population was Greek.”
The official Greek reaction is still due.
Greek diplomatic sources commented on Erdogan’s statement saying that “Everyone should respect the Treaty of Lausanne as the Treaty and the international law are realities in the civilized world that neither Ankara nor anyone else can ignore.”