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Erdogan's Territorial Claims to Greece are an 'Attempt to Manipulate Agenda'

Sputnik News

14:47 04.10.2016(updated 17:52 04.10.2016)

Attempts by Turkey to seek to revise the country's borders with Greece are contradictory to international law and are unacceptable in Europe, the Greek Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The statement was made in response to the Turkish Foreign Minister that earlier in the day said that Turkey and Greece have not yet reached an agreement on a maritime border between the two countries in the Aegean Sea.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the post-World War I Lausanne Treaty, saying it was imposed on Ankara by its opponents. He claimed that Turkey ceded islands with Turkish sanctuaries and mosques to Greece under the treaty.

The Aegean dispute has been a major source of tension between Greece and Turkey since the 1970s, bringing the two countries to the brink of military confrontation in 1987 and 1996. Talks to resolve the issue began after 1999, when Turkey agreed to resolve the bilateral dispute as part of its accession deal with the European Union.

Erdogan's words received a harsh response from the Turkish opposition. Some opposition members said that this was criticism of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish state.

In an interview with Sputnik, Turkish opposition lawmakers Levent Gok and Erkan Akcay described Erdogan's statement as unacceptable. They noted that the discussion over the Lausanne Treaty is an attempt by the government to draw public attention from the actual problems, including the extension of a state of emergency for another 90 days.

"Erdogan's addiction to controversial statements is well-known. For example, two months ago, he praised the positive role and importance of the Lausanne Treaty in Turkey's history. Two months later, he criticized the same agreement. Honestly speaking, this situation is a great concern for us," Levent Gok from the Republican People's Party said.

According to him, the Lausanne Treaty is one of the milestones in Turkish history and the establishment of the Turkish Republic.

"By criticizing the treaty, the president thus criticized the Turkish republican state. It's no surprise that his words sparked public outrage," he added.

The lawmaker underscored if a national leader uses such a tactic this proves that the domestic situation in his country is spinning out of his control and he wants to manipulate the domestic agenda.

"Erdogan is trying to consolidate his supporters, but in fact his rhetoric breeds disunity. People want to overcome the consequences of a failed coup attempt in July and want to return to normal life. However, Erdogan wants to extend the state of emergency bypassing the parliament and this is why he needs such outrageous rhetoric," Gok pointed out.

Taking into account the historic conditions, the Lausanne Treaty was a diplomatic victory for Turkey, Erkan Akcay, a lawmaker from the Nationalist Movement Party, said. The document prevented the country from being divided.

According to Akcay, Erdogan's criticism of the document is an attempt to create an agenda advantageous for the president and distract public attention from other problems.


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