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Erdogan criticizes Lausanne Treaty, says “We gave away the islands” to Greece

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

Image result for treaty of Sevres map

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.”

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  1. Let us forget about all those the treaties…. and agreements… and dictates of the victors…

    And find out how the situation was 2000 or even 3000 years ago.

    No Turks.

    • The Lausanne Treaty is the legal basis of both modern Turkey and Greece. Any challenge to its validity is a threat to the territorial integrity of Greece (given the power of Turkey) and is tantamount to a threat of military invasion of Greece. This is very serious indeed, and the Greek government needs to have the explicit backing of the EU for military protection. The Turks have chosen a moment when the EU is potentially breaking up, and Greece may not be able to rely on the support that it could have a decade ago.

    • no turks…true. just hittites, and then persians. and you know how far the persians got!

  2. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    To call this today a “independence war” is a farty old joke, as the meaning was independent against the Ottoman Empire but today they dump wikipedia with shit that makes it look like “independent from Greece”. At the end of Erdogun’s delirium there will be no Turkey no more, at least not one that is a colony on Kurdish and Armenian land. May be he should ask the oracle of Mecca to really go back in history and find out that – just like other nationalistic idiots like True Hungarians and True Finns – Mongolia is his home or China.

    • “independent from Greece” I understand ‘independent’ from foreign powers & have a sultan in istanbul

  3. Have no doubt, this man wants to restore the Ottoman Empire and expand it way into Europe and the ME. His ministry of religion funds many mosques in Europe and controls them.
    He has been watching too many Turkish soaps about their “glorious past”.

    • He has a strategy, so it makes him very dangerous. The islands close to Turkey where the illegals are housed,illegals outnumber the locals…short stretch to him occupying the islands claiming as they did in Cyprus 1974, with false claims.Greece better have her ears up and be ready, EU is a toothless tiger…. relying on EU , we have seen so far what they have done in Greece, there is not much more to say about the EU.

      • He is testing the water to see how far he can go. Give him a finger and he will take the whole Aegean. And more. But usually dictators like him one day go to far.

    • Giaourti Giaourtaki

      More important and dangerous is that he’s forcing school-kids in Turkey into religious classes, escaping this only rich people can do who can afford private schools and travel-costs or if the kid gots a different religion, poor atheists are forced – all religion is child abuse but this hammers it all but the EU-bastards don’t care as they’ve to sell their own religion instead of banning it all from schools and public.

  4. The convention for exchange of populations was not earlier. I know that WP says so, but it is wrong. The convention was merely initialled earlier, and incorporated into Lausanne asa formal treaty. Besides, the de facto exchange of populations occurred during military encounters — most dramatically after the sacking of Smyrna. It is also important to note that the Greek state did nothing to help Greek refugees escape Smyrna, and it was left to private individuals to finance and organise refugee movements. The same happens today, when the Greek state is incapable of organising anything.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      partly right: ‘population exchange agreement’ was signed in Jan 1923 and referred to 1.5million Greeks, 500K Muslims. Lausanne Treaty signed in July 1923. However, it’s not fair to bring in the same chapter pop. exchange and Greeks fleeing Asia Minor after the collapse of the Greek military front in 1922 (see also Smyrna). That was an ‘Exodus’ of some one million people. The official population exchange after the Treaty took place in a rather civilized manner although the population transfer was obligatory. BTW also 60K Armenians came to Greece.
      Weird coincidence: back then and today, the Greek state was broke, while Asia Minor Greeks as refugees experienced the racism from the locals in GR mainland.

      • The agreement was initialled in january and is not a stand-alone agreement: it is part of the Lausanne Treaty. The estimated 1.5 million Greeks includes those who had already left as refugees. The actual number of Greeks relocated in a civilised manner after 1923 was very small — whereas most of the Muslims ejected from Greece were expelled after the Lausanne Treaty. Although it was the world’s first obligatory exchange, previous exchanges (e.g. with Bulgaria) were called voluntary but in practice were not. We should also note that since there is no such thing as a definition of an ethnic Greek, the sole criterion used was religion — with the result that the exchange expelled many who did not seek refuge (such as Muslim Cretans who were Greek).
        You are right about the racism of Greeks towards the refugees from Asia Minor. This also seems to be part of the historical problem of insider-outsider in the Greek labour market: the refugees were given low paid menial work even though many had higher skills than the Greeks born in Greece.
        You can read one of my publications dealing with this aspect of Greek history of migration, here: