|Rejep Tayyip Erdogan.|
Last Wednesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu referred to the eastern Aegean Imia islets as “Turkish soil.” Cavusoglu was responding in writing to a question tabled by a Turkish MP regarding the status of islands and islets in the Aegean.
“As long as the AKP is in power there will be no change in the legal and de facto status of islands in the Aegean,” noted Cavusoglu in his statement.
Cavusoglu’s comments followed comments made by the leader of the Turkish Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu in which he accused Greece of occupying 18 islands in the Aegean.
The Greek Foreign Ministry described the comments by Cavusoglu as “irresponsible and provocative” and a violation of international law. In response, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Huseyin Muftuoglu reaffirmed Ankara’s stance.
“Turkey’s position on her sovereignty over Kardak Rocks [the Turkish name for the Imia islets] is well known by the international community since 1996. There is no change in our policy in this regard.” said Muftuoglu.
On Friday Ankara issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM), ostensibly denying Greece the right to conduct military maneuvers off 11 Greek islands including Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Kastellorizo, just a few hours after issuing a similar notice regarding Greek military maneuvers south of Kasos.
The notices relate to eastern Aegean areas used by the Hellenic Armed Forces for exercises which, Ankara says, are demilitarized zones.