“If Erdogan wants to abolish the Treaty of Lausanne, then we’ll return to the Treaty of Sevres.” Coming from any Greek, this statement would seem to be bold, but Panos Kammenos is not just any Greek. The Greek Minister of Defense opted to use this phrasing (a reminder of the time that Greece was awarded the Asia Minor territories) to respond to a series of incendiary remarks made by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but also to the Turkish Foreign Minister, Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who claimed on Thursday that the “Imia islets are Turkish land”.
Turkey’s recent provocations have not only been verbal; there have been frequent violations of Greek air space over the Aegean.
On Thursday two Turkish F-16s violated Greek air space off the Aegean islet of Psarra, leading to two dogfights with Greek aircraft.
Greek diplomatic sources on Thursday attributed the spike in Turkish aggression to the insecurity of the Turkish administration following a failed coup in July, which according to Kammenos led its government into making “stupid statements”.
The Greek Foreign Ministry showed more constraint in its response, describing the Turkish Minister’s comments as “irresponsible and provocative” and stating that “Greece’s sovereignty over its islands in the Aegean, including Imia, is indisputable and enshrined in international law”.
However, Turkey’s recent remarks played into Alexis Tsipras’ lap. The Greek Prime Minister discussed “Turkey’s escalating rhetoric”, in his telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkell, which focused on the EU-Turkish relations and the refugee crisis.