Türkİye, Europe

Footage shows Greek deployment of weapons, troops on Keci island in Aegean

In violation of international law, Greek soldiers keep guard on Keci island 5 miles southwest of Bodrum peninsula

Ali Balli and Ayse Yildiz   | 22.06.2022
Footage shows Greek deployment of weapons, troops on Keci island in Aegean

MUGLA, Türkiye

Anadolu Agency has filmed Greece's militarization of Keci (Pserimos) island, eight kilometers (five miles) southwest of the Bodrum peninsula, and its deployment of soldiers there.

In the Dodecanese islands group in the Aegean Sea, there are also some rocky areas, islets, and islands with yet-undetermined status. Keci island, which is located between the Greek islands of Kos and Kalymnos, is the closest island to the Turgutreis neighborhood of Türkiye's southwestern Bodrum resort city.

Gursel Tokmakoglu, a retired senior Air Force officer and security analyst, said Keci is a Turkish island due to its proximity to the Turkish mainland under Article 12 of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

Keci, which is supposed to remain uninhabited and demilitarized according to international law, hit the headlines with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recent visit to the island.

Mitsotakis shared a photo of the Greek flag drawn on the island on his social media account.

An Anadolu Agency footage recorded the Greek troops and heavy weapons deployed on the island.

Accordingly, a helipad, four prefabricated buildings, guard and watch towers, transmitters, water tanks, and solar panels can clearly be seen.

Greek soldiers are seen in their military camouflage around stone structures resembling trenches or shelters.

Also, Greek artillery batteries, though covered, around the Greek flag drawn on the land can be spotted.

Tokmakoglu told Anadolu Agency that Greece wants to claim Keci by deploying troops and heavy weapons on the Turkish island, which is a clear violation of international law.

The facilities on the island, as well as the weapons, should not exist on the island, this is what the Treaty of Lausanne requires, he further said.

"Building a facility at a point just across Türkiye, putting a (Greek) flag on an area where it can be seen by fishermen and tour boats sailing from Türkiye actually constitute a provocation," he argued.

What kind of military activities does Greece carry out on the islands?

Despite Türkiye's opposition and the obligations arising from international agreements, Greece has been militarizing the islands since 1960, violating their non-military status.

Although Greece accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in 1993, it made a reservation about "national security interests" to prevent the issue of Eastern Aegean islands from being referred to the International Court of Justice.

The islands of Samothraki, Lemnos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Psara, and Ikaria are supposed to be demilitarized today, while Greece violates the agreements by deploying brigades and divisions, as well as cannons and rifles.

Greece adopts the same attitude in the islands of Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Tilos, Karpathos, Symi, Rhodes, and Kastellorizo, and violates the law in nine of the 14 Dodecanese islands.

In total, Athens has now militarized 16 islands in the Eastern Aegean.

What steps have Türkiye taken in response to unlawful Greek acts?

Türkiye has rejected the militarization of the islands by Greece since the very beginning, protesting the Greek policy of violating the non-military status of the islands since the 1960s.

Ankara 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 militarization of the islands posed a serious threat to Türkiye's security.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the sovereignty over the islands would be questionable in the scenario that Athens has maintained its violations.

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