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Erdogan says he wants “borders change” and angers Greece before setting foot in Athens

Just hours before setting foot in Athens for a historical visit as the first Turkish President to come in 65 years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered Greece. In an interview, diplomatically unacceptable towards his host, Erdogan reiterated the steadfast Turkish claims to revise the Treaty of Lausanne and change the bilateral borders in the Aegean Sea.

In an interview with Skai TV,  Erdogan suggested that the Treaty of Lausanne, which set out the modern borders between Greece and Turkey, be updated.

“All agreements made in the world must be updated in the course of time. Lausanne also needs to be updated in light of these developments,” the Turkish President said adding that “such a move could be beneficial for Greece and Turkey” and “may strengthen friendship and security between the two countries.”

He pointed out concerns regarding the distances between some islands in the Aegean Sea and said “We need to overcome these. There are problems related to this in the measurement of airspace, the sea and the continental shelf.”

At the same time, he said that he would not discuss the possibility of revoking Ankara’s casus belli against Athens.

“If there is mutual self-sacrifice [from both countries], then we can overcome this much more comfortably,” he added.

He also said “it is impossible for Turkish ships to cruise on the Aegean Sea and that this is unacceptable.”

Erdogan also insisted that Greece return the eight Turkish military officers who fled to Greece last year and were granted asylum after the Supreme Court rejected Ankara’s request for their extradition. “Alexis Tsipras had promised me to extradite the 8 soldiers in 15-20 days,” he said and rejected the Independence of Justice saying “We cannot leave such issues to Justice, there should be interventions.”

Erdogan’s concept of friendship and good neighborhood is for sure not what Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had in mind when he described the first presidential visit from Turkey in 65 years as “a chance to take bold steps forward.”

In an exclusive interview with Turkish Anadolu News Agency also a day before the visit, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras underlined the need for respect for the Treaty of Lausanne and for an easing of tensions in the Aegean where violations of Greek air space by Turkish fighter jets have increased. He also said that that that coup plotters were not welcome in Greece” and that the independent Greek justice has decided about the fate of the eight Turkish soldiers.

Nevertheless, Erdogan’s claims angered Athens and government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said “We expect from Erdogan to build bridges not to raise walls.”


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