Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is exhuming some very uncomfortable and painful ghosts from Greece’s past sufferings under the Ottoman empire.
We are all well aware that Erdogan says a lot of ridiculous things, but his latest comments that reference the Dodecanese Islands, and the Treaty of Lausanne, should warrant concern for an EU weakened and hollowed out Greek state.
In a speech to regional officials in Ankara, Erdogan openly expressed his regret for the border decisions stipulated in the Treaty of Lausanne.
Erdogan lamented, and issued this veiled warning towards Greece…
“Some tried to deceive us by presenting Lausanne as victory.”
“In Lausanne, we gave away the islands that you could shout across to.”
The Treaty of Lausanne delimited the boundaries of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. It formally ceded all Turkish claims on the Dodecanese Islands, Cyprus, Egypt and Sudan, Syria and Iraq, and (along with the Treaty of Ankara) settled the boundaries of the latter two nations.
Turkey already illegally occupies 37% of Cyprus, and is currently embroiled in a jihadist invasion to topple Syria.
The Dodecanese Islands are located in the Aegean Sea close to the Turkish coastline..and given Erdogan’s Ottoman expansionist desires, Greece needs to take note of such comments.
Reacting to Erdogan’s comments, a Greek Foreign Ministry source remarked that “everyone should respect the Treaty of Lausanne,” noting that it is “a reality in the civilized world which no one, including Ankara, can ignore.”
The same source indicated that the Turkish leader’s comments were likely geared for domestic consumption.
While making clear his displeasure with the Treaty of Lausanne, Erdogan indicated during his speech that those who attempted a coup against Turkey in July would have imposed a far worse state of affairs.
“If this coup had succeeded, they would have given us a treaty that would have made us long for Sevres,” he said, referring to the pact that preceded the Treaty of Lausanne in 1920, abolishing the Ottoman Empire.
“We are still struggling about what the continental shelf will be, and what will be in the air and the land. The reason for this is those who sat at the table for that treaty. Those who sat there did not do [us] justice, and we are reaping those troubles right now,” he said.
The stipulations of the Treaty of Lausanne (courtesy of Wikipedia)…
The treaty provided for the independence of the Republic of Turkey but also for the protection of the Greek Orthodox Christian minority in Turkey and the Muslim minority in Greece. However, most of the Christian population of Turkey and the Turkish population of Greece had already been deported under the earlier Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations signed by Greece and Turkey. Only the Greeks of Constantinople, Imbros and Tenedos were excluded (about 270,000 at that time), and the Muslim population of Western Thrace (about 129,120 in 1923.) Article 14 of the treaty granted the islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) “special administrative organisation”, a right that was revoked by the Turkish government on 17 February 1926. Turkey also formally accepted the loss of Cyprus (which was leased to the British Empire following the Congress of Berlin in 1878, but de jure remained an Ottoman territory until World War I) as well as Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (which were occupied by British forces with the pretext of “putting down the Urabi Revolt and restoring order” in 1882, but de jure remained Ottoman territories until World War I) to the British Empire, which had unilaterally annexed them on 5 November 1914. The fate of the province of Mosul was left to be determined through the League of Nations. Turkey also explicitly renounced all claims on the Dodecanese Islands, which Italy was obliged to return to Turkey according to Article 2 of the Treaty of Ouchy in 1912 following the Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912).