Turkey announced a new navigational telex (Navtex) on Tuesday, saying that the island of Chios has been militarized by Greece in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.
The Turkish Naval Forces Office for Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography (OHNO) station in Izmir made the announcement.
The island of Chios (Sakız) is located across from western Izmir province.
Turkey on the same day announced a Navtex to extend the Yavuz drillship's activities in Eastern Mediterranean to Oct. 12
The Turkish government disputes Greece’s claim of having exclusive rights in the waters where the Oruç Reis is working, arguing that islands should not be included in calculating sea boundaries between countries.
Greece has armed 18 out of 23 islands in the Aegean Sea, which Turkey sees as a threat to its security. These include the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Symi, Icaria, Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Astypalaia, Rhodes, Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis), Nisyros, Tilos, Halki, Karpathos and Kasos.
According to data from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)-based Diplomatic Strategy Research Center, Greece has an army division on the islands of Lesbos and Rhodes, and a brigade on the islands of Chios and Symi, as well as several infantry battalions, tank battalions and anti-aircraft battalions on these islands.
Greece has 7,500 soldiers on the islands of Chios and Symi, commandos on the island of Rhodes, six army bases, two naval bases and two helicopter bases on the islands.
Greece is also planning to use the Aegean islands in case of a possible military operation against Turkey, the data said.
Turkey has recently criticized Greece for military deployment to the demilitarized island of Kastellorizo, calling it a provocation and a display of its true intentions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The island of Kastellorizo is only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Turkish shore. Greek armed forces carried out a military drill on Kastellorizo in November 2019.
Starting from the Treaty of London in 1913, the militarization of the Eastern Aegean Islands was restricted and their demilitarized status was confirmed in the Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923. The 1947 Treaty of Paris, which ceded the Dodecanese islands from Italy to Greece, also confirmed the demilitarized status.
However, Greece argues that the 1936 Montreux Convention on Turkish Straits should be applied regarding the issue, while Ankara says Greece's obligation to disarm the islands remains unchanged under the Montreux Convention as well since there is no provision that it is different from the Treaty of Lausanne on the issue.
The rearming of the demilitarized Aegean islands has always been a hot debate between the two countries, especially after the 1960s when relations between Ankara and Athens turned sour over the Cyprus question and Greece's extended claims over Aegean airspace and territorial waters. Turkey's first reaction to Greece's arming of the islands in the Aegean was a diplomatic note given to Athens on June 29, 1964.