The General Staff has issued a harsh statement on Greece's militarization of the Aegean islands, suggesting that this act conforms to a policy shaped by the Megali Idea (Great Idea), an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism expressing the goal of establishing a Greek state that encompasses all ethnic Greeks.
The General Staff's reaction was expressed in a statement posted on its Web site on Monday in the "Pages from History," section, titled "Conquest of the Island of Rhodes (December 20, 1522)." The Siege of Rhodes in 1522 was a successful second attempt by the Ottoman Empire to expel the Knights of Rhodes from their island stronghold and thereby secure Ottoman control of the eastern Mediterranean.
The statement began with a summary of the 390-year-long period of Ottoman sovereignty on the island of Rhodes and then noted that both Rhodes and the Greek islands in the Aegean, known as the Dodecanese (Twelve Islands) group, which is composed of more than 12 islands but which has retained this name since the time the prefecture was made up of only 12 islands, were turned over to Greece under the 1947 Treaty of Paris.
"Greece is militarizing the island of Rhodes and the Twelve Islands, which have vital importance for Turkey's security in the eyes of the world and in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris," the General Staff then said under the subtitle of "Conclusion."
"As a matter of fact, Greece, with this act, is acting according to the dictates of its 'Megali Idea' policy -- which was conceived in 1850 and which it believes that it has successfully put into play through various tricks up to the present day -- and, while doing this, it is trying extremely deviously to make the international community believe [in the existence of] an imaginary Turkish danger that harbors expansionist desires towards the islands,'" the strongly worded "Conclusion" said.
"By its very nature, in order to render this kind of policy successful, the Turkish presence there is being undermined. This [policy] serves as an accelerating factor," the General Staff said, noting that as a result of Greek efforts, the Turks living in these islands have had to leave the islands by either abandoning their properties or selling them at very low prices. The historical heritage from the Ottoman period has not been appropriately protected by the Greek authorities on purpose, the General Staff added. The harsh statement came only weeks before a planned official visit by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Turkey, likely to take place in the second half of January. The last Greek prime minister to make an official visit to Turkey was Karamanlis' uncle, Constantine, in 1959. Karamanlis was originally supposed to visit Turkey in 2005, but the visit failed to take place as Turkey's relations with the EU began to sour because of the slow progress of its negotiations to join the bloc.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Aralık 2007, 22:39