Confutation of Turkish propaganda and its false allegations

The delimitation of national airspace,

Turkey claims that according to Article 1 and 2 of the  1944  Chicago  Convention on civil aviation,  the breadth of national airspace has to correspond to the breadth of the territorial sea. Greece has a six nautical mile territorial sea boundary and a ten n.m breadth of national airspace.


Greece’s 10-n.m. (19 km) national airspace, fixed in 1931, precedes the ICAO statute (1947). All its neighbours, including Turkey, acknowledged it not only before 1947 but also after the ICAO was set up (Turkey until 1974), hence constituting an established right. 

The breadth of the Greek territorial waters is set at the 6nautical miles only because of Turkey’s threats of war. Greece would like to have equal breadths of its territorial sea and national airspace set at 12 n. m as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates. Nevertheless, on October 24, 1979, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that the extension by Greece of its territorial sea to 12 nautical miles would be considered a cause of war. However, the territorial sea breadth of 12 n.m. is an internationally recognized right and used by Turkey at the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Turkish National Assembly followed by declaring on June 8, 1995, casus belli (cause of war) the possible extension of Greek territorial waters and, therefore, the equation of both belt widths. 

The fortification of the islands

According to article 13 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), Greece undertook to observe some restrictions in the islands of Mytilene, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria such as prohibiting the establishment of naval bases and fortifications; forbiddingGreek military aircraft to fly over the territory of the Anatolian coast (and reciprocally, the Turkish ones to fly over the said islands) as well as limiting the number of Greek military forces in the said islands. Nevertheless, these restrictions do not constitute a regime of demilitarization of the islands.

The status of Limnos and Samothrace islands was governed by the 1923 Convention Relating to the Regime of the Straits, which has been replaced by the 1936 Montreux Treaty. Turkey, by the Treaty of Montreux, ending the demilitarized status of the Dardanelles, accepted at the same time the termination of the demilitarized status of the Islands Samothrace and Lemnos. During a debate in the Turkish National Assembly on the ratification of the Treaty of Montreux, on July 31, 1936, Rustu Aras, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, made the statement: “The provisions concerning the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace which belong to our friend and neighbour Greece, and which had been demilitarized by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, are also abolished by the Treaty of Montreux”.

As for the Dodecanese, Turkey was not a signatory at the Peace Treaty of Paris in 1947, nor was there any provision giving any right to Turkey whatsoever. For Turkey, therefore, the Treaty is a case of res inter allios acta, a convention done between others. Consequently, Turkey has no legal grounds for making any claim concerning the status of the Dodecanese islands.

Starting from 1974, Turkey advanced claims affecting the Greek islands of the Aegean. It deployed its western forces at the Anatolian coast, opposite to the islands, “The Aegean Army”, and supplemented its massive power with a substantial fleet of numerous landing craft. Subsequently, after demanding and getting the demilitarization of Cyprus, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus and occupied 40% of its territory, which is still under its military occupation. Turkey also raises unfounded territorial claims against Greek islands, sometimes using its military, and it is relentlessly committing violations of the Greek sea and air space over the islands. It has expansionist and aggressive tendencies as expressed by its casus belli if Greece makes use of its right for 12 n.m. territorial waters zone as well as by its military interventions in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. 

Given all these, there is nothing in International Law or any treaty to curtail the right of self-defence, a right confirmed by the United Nations Charter. 

Muslim Minority in Greek Thrace

Turkey’s allegations about supposed suppression of the rights of the Muslim minority in Greek Thrace do not reflect the actual situation in that region as Greece has always respected and implemented the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne and the stipulations favouring minorities of international Law. Turkish allegations, without exception,lack any legal or factual foundation and are attributed to nothing else but to Turkish propaganda. They only constitute an attempt to shift the focus of attention from its real place, namely the plight of the Greek minority of Constantinople, Imbros, and Tenedos, a thriving minority in the 1920s but now decimated.

Lausanne Treaty established the principle of reciprocity between the minorities, i.e., numerical balance and equal treatment of the minority groups (Lausanne Treaty described only the rights of the Greeks of Constantinople, citing at the end that Muslims in Thrace would have similar rights). According to the Treaty, the minority in Greece has a religious character (Muslim), whereas the minority in Turkey national (Greek).

The Muslim minority of Greek Thrace, 86,973 persons according to 1920 figures, now numbers approximately 150,000, a thriving group of Greek citizens, having equal (with positive discrimination in the fields of education, family law, presence in courts, etc.) rights with all Greek citizens, free to exercise their religion in approximately 250 mosques. 

On the other hand, the Turkish Government, using a series of legislative and administrative laws, as well as brutal violence, has engineered an impressive depletion of the numbers of the Greek minority, violating not only explicit international treaty obligations (Treaty of Lausanne, July 1923 and Convention of Lausanne, January 1923) and those stemming from the United Nations Charter and the Convention of the Council of Europe on Human Rights but also those of its own domestic Law. According to Turkish statistics, in 1924, the Greek population of Istanbul amounted to 279,788. In the space of ten years, this figure had fallen to 103,000. Today, no more than 2,000, mostly old Greeks, live in Turkey. 

Crete: Turkish arguments on sovereignty

Turkish nationalists claim that three-quarters of Crete have never surrendered to Greece and that they belong to Turkey. 

This claim is allegedly based on Article 4 of the London Peace Treaty of 17/30 May 1913 by which Crete was granted to Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Serbia. Ever since, the Turkish nationalists claim that the three countries did not make use of their rights over Crete; therefore, these rights automatically fall to the original holder, the Ottoman Empire, and its continuum, Turkey.

However, the claim is queer as Crete always belonged historically, culturally, and demographically to Greece. Cretans fought continuously for their freedom since 1821.

Moreover, the claim is false:

Serbia waived all its rights over Crete, expressly by the minutes of the meeting between Serbian Prime Ministers Pacic and Venizelos on16.8.1913.

Bulgaria formally withdrew from all its claims on Crete by Article 5 of the Bucharest Treaty of 28.7/10.8.1913

Montenegro tacitly renounced its – geographically odd –alleged rights over Crete. It never made any claim against Greece. In 1914 the World War began, and Montenegro was occupied in 1916 by Austria-Hungary. In 1922 it joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians – without any mention to Crete.

 Vassilios Moutsoglou, Ambassador ad. h.


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