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ND MP Syrigos: “97% of Lausanne Treaty is obsolete”; statement triggers outrage

Ruling New Democracy MP and professor of international law, Angelos Syrigos, stirred the public debate when he claimed that “some articles of the Lausanne Treaty were out of date.” Among others, he referred to the articles regarding the military presence on the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea.

Syrigos’ statements came while the Greek-Turkish rapprochement is underway and discussions reportedly include also the co-exploitation of the Aegean Sea.

It should be recall that the Lausanne Treaty is the agreement that established the borders between Greece and Turkey in 1923 after the war the cost the lives of millions of people and forced the evacuation of million of Greeks from Asia Minor.

Syrigos claimed that “97% of the Lausanne Treaty is obsolete”, while he stressed that the provision on the borders set then remains clearly in force.

Newspapers recall that still in 2020, Syrigos stated that “the Lausanne Treaty was a historic text, a sacred treaty that you don’t touch!”

“The Treaty of Lausanne is a historical text. The conditions that define limits, borders, are considered sacred and cannot be revised because they are the result of bloody conflicts. You can’t discuss such issues because the discussion in advance will end up at a wall,” he said on December 29, 2020.

Speaking to state broadcaster ERT, Syrigos tried to justified his controversial statements saying:

“I said it is obsolete because all we are interested in from the Lausanne Treaty to this day is the border restriction provisions… It is a 101-year-old text. It has provisions on how to pay the Ottoman debt, how to exchange prisoners, what to do with the Allied cemeteries and on what to do with the companies that had contracts in the Ottoman Empire. All this is in the past.

Regarding the demilitarization of the islands, he stressed that “it is outdated and that is why we do not discuss it and have excluded it, and this has been the official Greek position since 1995.”

“In contrast, Turkey says that the Lausanne Treaty on this issue is not obsolete and invokes its provisions on demilitarization,” he said. he forgot to mention, though, that Turkey has a very strong presence with its 4th Army wing on its western coast

His remarks provoked strong reactions from the far-right, as well as from left-wing SYRIZA and socialist PASOK, forced the government to comment that Syrigos was speaking as professor of international law and not as ND MP,” while they also puzzled other lawmakers of the conservative ruling party.

SYRIZA expressed “serious concerns” about the government’s stance on the issue. “Syrigos contradicted Greece’s positions and left room for Turkey to exploit his statement in the context of its unacceptable position to revise the treaty, diverting the Greek-Turkish dialogue from the objective of appealing to The Hague on the continental shelf/EEZ,” SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis siad in a statement adding that these statements were a “gift” to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The last thing Greece needs are ambiguous statements, such as the recent ones of Mr. Syrigos”, the parliamentary representative of PASOK-KINAL Dimitris Manzos in charge of foreign policy criticized.

“At a time when the Turkish Defense Minister does not hesitate to repeat in  contrary to international law, revisionist narrative about “Blue Homeland”, the last thing Greece needs are ambiguous statements,” Manzos commented.

“It should be clear to everyone, and especially to the MPs of the New Democracy, that their public positions can be exploited by the Turkish side for the purpose of promoting ahistorical and her illegal accusations,” he added.

“Greek-Turkish relations do not improve with wishful thinking and academic analyses, but with the practical application of the rules of international law and the law of the sea, with a spirit of good neighborliness and the abandonment of revisionist rhetoric on the part of Turkey,” Manzos added.

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