Turkey has issued a navigational telex to mariners accusing Greece of violating the Lausanne Treaty by militarizing the Greek island of Chios just 10 miles from a Turkish port.
According to Turkish media, Turkey’s Izmir station issued a NAVTEX Tuesday night saying that Greece’s activities violated the demilitarized status of the island, which was agreed upon almost a century ago.
The navigational warning came following an announcement regarding a gunnery exercise by Greek forces in the area around Chios, a Greek island located 10 nautical miles from the Turkish port of Cesme.
Turkish officials cried foul over the move, while Greek defence sources said it was a response to perceived threats after Turkey upped the rhetoric in disputing Greek claims
“NAVTEX message, number la08-206/20, is a violation of the demilitarized status of Chios island set by the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty,” the messages read.
Turkish media also reported that Greece was militarizing islands since 1960 in violation of the Lausanne treaty, with Ankara reportedly calling upon Athens constantly to demilitarize the islands in question.
In late August, photos from AFP emerged of armed Greek soldiers arriving along with tourists by ferry on Kastellorizo, a Greek island just two miles off the Turkish coast.
Turkish officials cried foul over the move, while Greek defence sources said it was a response to perceived threats after Turkey upped the rhetoric in disputing Greek claims that the island could be used to extend Greek maritime zones into areas claimed by Turkey.
The issuance of NAVTEX and counter-NAVTEX warnings between Greece and Turkey is not something new, as the two countries, but also the Republic of Cyprus, have been issuing competing anti-NAVTEX to assert jurisdiction over contested areas.
The new series of NAVTEX wars comes days after Turkey suspended operations for seismic research vessel Oruc Reis in the eastern Mediterranean, citing “maintenance issues” while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the development as a “positive first step.”
Turkey is also the subject of an upcoming European Council in late September where Cyprus and Greece are calling for tough sanctions on Turkey if Ankara continues what the two EU member states describe as blatant violations of sovereignty and maritime zones.
European Council President Charles Michel, who is visiting Cyprus on Wednesday, has also held talks with Mitsotakis in Athens in an effort to seek a way forward ahead of the council meeting.
Turkey has disputed Greek and Greek Cypriot claims, saying they are based on maximalist positions, while Athens and Nicosia accuse Ankara of failing to respect international law.
On Tuesday, Turkey also extended a Navtex for its ultra deepwater drillship Yavuz until October 12, currently floating northwest of Cyprus.