World Bulletin / News Desk
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has sharply criticized neighboring Greece after President Prokopis Pavlopoulos called into question the demilitarized status of a group of southeastern Aegean islands.
During a trip to the islands -- known as Dodecanese -- on Monday, Pavlopoulos appeared to suggest that Athens could reinterpret the issue of demilitarization for purposes of “preventive defense”.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry late Tuesday expressed “consternation and concern” at Pavlopoulos’ remarks, which came at the anniversary of the island complex becoming a part of Greece.
“Our objection to Greece's militarization of these islands, thereby threatening the security of Turkey, is a basic right granted to our country under the framework of international law,” the statement said.
It also accused Greece of "hiding behind an imagined Turkish threat” in its bid to challenge the demilitarized status.
The issue has been one of several concerning the Aegean Sea that have plagued the two neighbors’ ties over the past decades.
Ankara says the matter of demilitarization is predicated upon five internationally binding legal instruments -- a continuum that begins with the 1913 Treaty of London and culminates in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.