NATO Allies Greece, Turkey Threaten Each Other in Aegean Dispute over Imia / Kardak Islands
Supposed NATO allies Greece and Turkey have begun threatening one another once again in their dispute over two uninhabited islands, the Imia / Kardak Islands in the Aegean Sea, following a revival of the dispute from the end of January.
The long-standing dispute over the islets located in the Aegean between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern coast of mainland Turkey nearly led to an all-out war between Turkey and Greece in the mid-1990s.
The island dispute between Greece and Turkey came up again earlier this week after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that if Turkey had wanted to go to the islets — called Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish — it would have done so.
This prompted a response by Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos last Friday that Turkey was trying to “escalate the crisis” over the Aegean islands, and warned that the Greek forces were going to react to Turkish attempts to set foot on them.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias also remarked that the “Turkish Chief of General Staff could not set foot” on the islands “even if he wanted to.“
Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusogly retorted first on Saturday, and then again on Sunday, speaking in Turkey’s Mediterranean province of Antalya, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency reported.
He noted that Turkey’s defense head gen. Hulusi Akar had just visited the disputed islands at the end of January (the move that sparked the previous crisis), and accused the Greek Defense Minister Kammenos of “provocative” rhetoric.
“We place importance on our relations with Greece. But, first of all, Greece should not allow a spoiled child to cast a shadow over this,” Cavusoglu said. apparently referring to Kammenos.
“They should not try our patience,” he added.
In response, Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos issued further warnings to Turkey over the Imia / Kardak islands.
“There is no way Cavusoglu can step onto a Greek island. If they want to, they can see. I’ll see how they will get off the island if they set foot there,“ Kammenos said on Skai TV on Sunday, as cited by The Greek Reporter.
He further opened declared that any “provocation” by Turkey would be met with Greece’s armed forces.
The Greek Reporter reminds that in December 2016, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Turkish Parliament that “there is no change in our policy regarding Imia. Imia is Turkish land.”
The dispute over the two uninhabited islands called Imia by Greece and Kardak by Turkey flared up at the end of January 2017, after a Greek court ruled against the extradition of 8 Turkish military servicemen accused of participating in Turkey’s failed coup attempt which occurred on July 15, 2016.
An all-out war nearly erupted back in 1987, and then again in January 1996 between Turkey and Greece over the two disputed islands with a combined territory of 10 acres.
Both times a Greek-Turkish war was prevented only with massive pressure on both sides by the United States.
The tensions 20 years ago did receive a funny spin when local Greeks from neighboring islands landed several goats on the disputed islets leaving them there together with the Greek flag.
Ivan Dikov, the founder of HeartlandHinterland.com, is the author of the book “6 Million Abortions: How Communism Utilized Mass-Scale Abortion Exterminating Europe’s Fastest Growing Nation“, among other books.