Greece has started sending troops to an islet close to Turkish shores, despite the islands’ demilitarized status, Turkey having already warned about a previous military deployment to another island, a report said Thursday.
Video footage published by TRT Haber shows Greek soldiers on the islet of Ro (Karaada), part of the municipality of Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis), which has become a hot subject of debate between the two countries over rights to natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The report noted that Greece had turned a number of civilian buildings on the island into military headquarters used by troops.
The islet of Ro is located only 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) away from the Turkish shore and is uninhabited.
Turkey criticized Greece for military deployment to the demilitarized island of Kastellorizo in August, calling it a provocation and a display of its true intentions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The island has had demilitarized status since the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, but Greece has previously carried out military drills there.
Kastellorizo is the biggest island of a small group of 14 islets and islands in the Aegean Sea near Turkey that is called the Dodecanese islands.
Relations between the two countries have been strained over a number of issues, including the dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Cyprus issue and Greece’s protection of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) fugitives who took part in the failed coup attempt in 2016 and more.
The two countries also have disagreements over the rights of Turkish-Muslim and Greek-Orthodox communities, as well as Greek support for or inaction toward terrorist groups targeting Turkey.
But the current dispute specifically focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey has sent seismic research vessel Oruç Reis to carry out exploration activities.
The Turkish government disputes Greece’s claim to exclusive rights in the waters where the research vessel is working, arguing that islands should not be included in calculating sea boundaries between countries.
Greece claims that even its smaller islands spanning the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean – many of which are only a few kilometers from Turkey's mainland – provide maritime rights and extend the country's continental shelf.
Athens claims 40,000 square kilometers (11,660 square nautical miles) of maritime jurisdiction with the zone that it attributes to the 10-square-kilometer (2,470-acre) island of Kastellorizo, which is 580 kilometers (313 nautical miles) from its mainland.
However, these claims have been compromised by Greece's own agreement with Egypt, which restricts the continental shelf of the islands that it has traditionally defended. It has thus refuted its own claims that the continental shelves of the islands could not be restricted.
The Greek government had also previously agreed to limit the continental shelves of some of its islands in the Ionian Sea in a similar treaty with Italy.