The US State Department has issued a written statement saying that “Greece’s sovereignty over the Aegean islands is not disputed” following a demarche launched by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against Greece on Monday.

In a written statement, a spokesperson for the US State Department noted that “at a time when Russia has again invaded a sovereign European state, statements that could increase tensions between NATO Allies are not particularly helpful”.

“The United States continues to encourage its NATO allies to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve disputes through diplomacy,” it continued, adding that “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected. Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is not disputed. We call on all parties to refrain from rhetoric and actions that could further escalate tensions.”

President Erdogan’s demarche was presented to Greece’s ambassador in Ankara, Christodoulos Lazaris, demanding that tanks or other heavy military vehicles on the islands of Chios and Lesvos in the eastern Aegean were a violation of the islands’ demilitarised status, Kathimerini reported. Turkish authorities also lodged an official complaint with the United States Embassy in Ankara as the vehicles in question are American made. Greece’s ambassador to Turkey, Mr Lazaris responded by stressing that Greece’s positions have been thoroughly presented in the two letters to the UN Secretary General, and added that Greece fully respects its obligations arising from the Treaty of Lausanne, according to a statement issued by Greece’s Foreign Ministry.

The Greek ambassador added that Turkey continues to violate Greece’s sovereignty with its continuous airspace violations and its flights over Greek territory.

President Erdogan continued his use of escalating rhetoric claiming that “Greece is not Turkey’s equal politically, economically, or militarily”.