Senior Turkish officials criticise Greece for harbouring terrorists and militarising Aegean islands.

Türkiye in recent months has stepped up criticism of Greece for militarising islands in the eastern Aegean, near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from shore.
Türkiye in recent months has stepped up criticism of Greece for militarising islands in the eastern Aegean, near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from shore. (Reuters Archive)

Despite having at least 200 years of state history and a deeply-rooted Hellenic culture, the Greek governance structure is built on anti-Türkiye rhetoric, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have said. 

Underscoring Greece's contribution to the Western civilisation via its language, technology, medicine, theatre and Olympics, an official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said such contribution gave Greece a "sense of entitlement."

Greece harbouring Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) members is another bone of contention between Ankara and Athens. After the July 15, 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye, Greece became a top destination for FETO terrorists fleeing justice.

"Athens is in a toxic, safe-haven state with the presence of terrorists from the DHKP-C, PKK and FETO. All of their locations are known," the official said, in response to a question on the refugee camp of Lavrion (Laurium) near the Greek capital.

Stressing that an EU country, in this day and age, is nurturing terrorists who have nothing to do with freedom, the official reminded that the PKK is an entity designated as a terrorist organisation not only by the EU but by the US as well.

FETO members in Greece

"There is no explanation for this, these are the groups that the Greek mentality feeds on with the logic that 'it will help me one day against Türkiye'," the senior official said.

According to the Greek press estimates, since July 15, 2016, nearly 20,000 Turkish citizens, mostly FETO members, crossed into Greece via the Aegean islands or the Meric (Evros) River.

While some of them went on to other European countries, about 9,000 of them sought political asylum in Greece itself.

READ MORE: Greek provocations against Türkiye are anathema to peace and stability

Militarisation of Aegean islands

Türkiye in recent months has stepped up criticism of Greece stationing troops on islands in the eastern Aegean, near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from shore.

These islands were required to be demilitarised under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, so any troops or weapons on the islands are strictly forbidden.

Citing Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's recent remarks about arming the islands, another diplomatic official who also requested not to be named said "if the arms placed on the islands is for your protection, then we ask why? Will the Italians attack? Or is it against me? Then it is not enough."

On a question regarding the reason for Greece's frequent propaganda of "a possible attack from Türkiye," the official said Athens is exaggerating the situation and if its goal is "deterrence, then it is not a successful one because it is triggering the move that it is trying to avoid."

Türkiye has rejected the militarisation of the islands by Greece since the beginning, and has issued protests through diplomatic channels and requested the violations to stop. The issue came to the UN and NATO agenda in the 1970s.

The latest Turkish diplomatic move was to send a letter of complaint to the UN in July 2021, saying the militarisation of the islands posed a serious threat to Türkiye's security.

READ MORE: Türkiye records illegal Greece pushback of migrants, asylum seekers

Source: AA