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Turkey fuels tension with Greece with outrageous statements and actions

For one more time, Turkey has been fueling tension with Greece with a series of outrageous statements and actions. During a visit to North-East Greece, a Turkish Deputy Prime Minister claimed that the Muslim minority in Thrace were “Turkish citizens.” At the same time, Ankara sent a military helicopter over the islet of Imia and claimed it had the right to forbid Greece’s military exercises.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusolgu claimed that the Muslim community in Greece’s North-East were “Turkish citizens” who needed to have equal rights like Greeks. The outrageous statement was made while he was visiting his birthplace, village, Deilina, in Komotini in Thrace on Friday.

Speaking to Komotini Turkish Youth Union he said he expects the “Turkish community in Western Thrace to continue its existence in Greece as equal citizens.” He called Turkey “motherland.”

“As Western Thrace Turkish community, as Muslim-Turkish minority, you have to be good citizens of this country as you are Greek citizens,” he claimed.

The Komotini Turkish Youth Union, where Çavuşoğlu spoke, was previously closed by the authorities for having “Turkish” in its name.

The region of Thrace is home for some 100,000 Muslims for whom Ankara claims they are “Muslim Turks.”

Prompt was the Greek response to the Turkish allegations, with the President of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos to urge Turkey to respect international treaties and laws. “whoever visits Greece must respect the international law,” the President said.
Stressing that Greece supports Turkey’s EU accession, Pavlopoulos said “But this requires on the part of Turkey, full, sincere and practical proof of respect for international and European law as a whole. This means that the Lausanne Treaty, which recognizes only a religious minority in Greece, is fully respected, and this must be accepted in practice if Turkey wants to have a European perspective.”
“If there is no respect for international law and international treaties, it is not possible to build a real friendship. Such friendships are built on the solid basis of mutual respect for International and European Law,” the President underlined.
In recent days, Ankara has been fueling tension with its neighbor Greece for one more time, and on multiple level.
On Thursday, Ankara “warned” over a military exercise conducted jointly with Greece and Egypt on the island of Rhodes.

Describing the exercise as “illegal” Turkish Foreign Ministry claimed that “the 1947 Treaty of Paris prohibits any kind of military education activities on the Rhodes island, which was transferred to Greece from Italy after World War II on the condition that it would be disarmed.” The military exercise conducted on Rhodes is an open breach of international law, the ministry said in  statement warning Greece  that “one-sided hostile acts that will increase tensions in the Aegean Sea.”

Next morning, when the Greek Coast Guard launched a big Search And Rescue operation after a migrant boat sank off the islet of Kalolimnos, Turkey sent a helicopter over the nearby islet of Imia for which Ankara has been challenging Greek sovereignty since 1996.

Video: Turkish military helicopter flying over Imia. Footage shot by a boat participating in SAR off Kalolimnos, uploaded by Greek Rescue Team.

On the same day, Turkish fighter jest conducted 66 violations of Greek air space – FIR Athens.

In a sharp statement Greek Foreign Ministry urged Turkey to abide with international law. Regarding the military exercise on Rhodes, Athens said “like every other sovereign state, Greece considers self-evident the right to take the necessary measures for the effective defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations”

Finally, “we remind our neighbouring country that it is not a signatory to, and thus derives no right from, the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said.

PS Turkey pretends to be unable to understand that not every Muslim is a Turk. Had some Greek shot down the helicopter, Ankara would seek the international fora in protest.

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