Open letter to the president of Turkey

To the President of the Republic of Turkey,H.E Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Your Excellency,

We had met and exchanged views many times during the years 2016-2012 when I was Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC) on issues concerning the Organisation.I also remember of having congratulated you because you were the only Prime Minister of Turkey that was able to stop the intervention of the armed forces in the political life of your country.

The reason that I am writing you this letter concerns the threats  that you are  sending to my country and particularly concerning the Greek islands of the Aegean.It is of my opinion that you should cease threatening Greece because you are becoming an embarrassment to our allies in NATO and to the international community because you show yourself as lacking historical knowledge by hiding the truth and it is a shame to be viewed like that by the international community.That is why I will try today,in attempt  to remind you of the historical facts concerning the Greek islands of the Aegean so at least you do not appear as lacking historical knowledge.

Let us start with Limnos and Samothrace.The demilitarization of these islands along with the demilitarization of the Dardanelles,the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus,Imvros(Gokceada),Tenedos(Bozcaada) and Rabbit Islands(Tavcan), ,was  originally provided for in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty on the Straits.This was annulled by the 1936 Montreux Treaty.Greece’s right to militarize Limnos and Samothrace was recognised by your country,in accordance with the letter sent to the Greek Prime Minister on 6 May 1936 by the Turkish Ambassador in Athens at the time,Roussen Esref,upon instructions from Ankara.In the letter,the Turkish government reiterated this position when the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs,Rustu Aras,in his address to the Turkish national Assembly on the occasion of the ratification of the Montreux Treaty,unreservedly recognised Greece’s legal right to militarize Limnos and Samothrace,with the following statement:”The provisions pertaining to the islands of Limnos and Samothrace ,which belong to our neighbor and friendly country Greece and were demilitarized in application of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty,were also abolished by the new Montreux Treaty,which gives us great pleasure.”As proof of the above allow me to refer to the Gazette of the Minute of the Turkish National Assembly,volume 12,July 31/1936,page 309.All of this proves,Your Excellency,that your country recognised in the most official way the right of Limnos and Samothrace to militarize.And I ask why are you ignoring your previous commitments?

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Let us proceed now to the status of Mytilene,Chios,Samos and Ikaria.You are protesting that Greece has violated the Lausanne Treaty by militarizing these islands.But your Excellency,the Lausanne Treaty does not mention that these islands have been granted demilitarized status.The Greek government simply commits to not establishing naval bases or fortifications there in accordance with article 13 of the Treaty which specifies that:”With a view to ensuring the maintenance of peace,the Greek Government undertakes to observe the following restrictions in the islands of Mytilene,Chios,Samos and Ikaria:

-no naval base and no fortification will be established in the said islands.

-Greek military aircraft will be forbidden to fly over the territory of the Anatolian coast.Reciprocally the Turkish  Government will forbid  their military aircraft to fly over the said islands.

-The Greek military forces in the said islands will be limited to the normal contingent called up for military service,while it can be trained on the spot,as well as to a force of gendarmerie and police in proportion to the force of gendarmerie and police existing in the whole of the Greek territory.”.

Consequently,Your Excellency,there are no violations of the Lausanne Treaty by Greece.On the contrary there are Turkish violations by overflights of Turkish military aircraft over those islands.If one accepts,Your Excellency,that no one has the right to misinterpret the dispositions of international treaties,would it not be logical that you withdraw your arguments that are based on misinterpretations? Do you believe that the international community is not in a position to fully understand the contents of an international treaty?

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As far as the status of the Greek islands of the South-Eastern Aegean,the Dodecanese, is concerned,allow me to remind you of the following:Your country was neutral during WWII and only towards the end you declared war against Germany..The Dodecanese Islands were ceded to Greece in full sovereignty by the Paris Peace Treaty between Italy and the Allies in April 1947.The provisions of this Treaty provided for the demilitarization of these islands:”The above islands shall be demilitarized and shall remain so.”With regards to your claims,Your Excellency,allow me to note that your country is not a signatory state to this Treaty,which therefore constitutes a “res inter alios acta”,meaning that this treaty concerns other states and not Turkey.According to article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties,a treaty does not create obligations or rights for third countries,which is the case of Turkey.The demilitarized status of of the Dodecanese Islands was imposed after the decisive intervention of the Soviet Union at that time.

Having explained the historical facts,Your Excellency,allow me to suggest to you to become serious so that you will not lose the prestige that you have acquired until now by your position vis-a-vis Ukraine and your relations with Russia,

If,in spite of all,you attempt an attack against Greece,be sure that you will fail,as the Italians did when they attacked Greece in 1940..

Please accept Your Excellency,the assurances of my highest consideration,

Leonidaws Chrysanthopoulos
Ambassador ad honorem
Secretary General of BSEC (2006-2012)

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