ΑTLAS OF GREEK-TURKISH RELATIONS
Demilitarization of the islands of the Eastern Aegean
a. What do the treaties provide for? The treaties of Lausanne (1923) and Paris (1947) imposed a demilitarization regime on certain islands of the Eastern Aegean. Lemnos, Samothrace, Imbros (Gökçeada), Tenedos (Bozcaada) and Lagouses/ Mavries/Rabbit Islands (Tavs an adalarι): TOTAL DEMILITARIZATION “[…] there shall exist, in the demilitarized zones and the islands, no fortifications, no permanent artillery organisation, no submarine engines of war other than submarine vessels, no military aerial organisation, and no naval base. “No armed forces shall be stationed in the demilitarised zones and islands except the police and gendarmerie forces necessary for the maintenance of order; […] “Greece shall be entitled to send her fleet into the territorial waters of the demilitarised Greek islands, but may not use these waters as a base of operations against Turkey nor for any military or naval concentration for this purpose.” (From Article 6 of the Convention Relating to the Regime of the Straits ). Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Ikaria: THE OBLIGATION TO NOT ESTABLISH NAVAL BASES AND FORTIFICATIONS “1. The specific islands shall not be used for installation of any naval base or for establishing any fortification project […]. “3. The Greek military forces in the said islands will be limited to the normal contingent called up for military service, which 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.” (Article 13 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty . The article makes no mention of any kind of military installation [observation post, radar station, etc.] nor airbases. There was also no specific mechanism provided for in order to monitor the number of soldiers or police forces). The Dodecanese islands: TOTAL DEMILITARIZATION “These islands shall be and shall remain demilitarized.” (Article 14 of the Paris Peace Treaty ). Turkey considers that Greece began to violate the demilitarization regime af ter 1964. After 1974, Turkey began to systematically
denounce Greece for violating international treaties requiring demilitarization. For its part, Greece accepts that it moved to militarize the islands after 1974. Greece considers, however, that the infringement is compatible with international law and demanded by the actual circumstances. b. What each side maintains with regard to Limnos and Samothrace Greece considers that the demilitarization regime of Lemnos and Samothrace ended with the Montreux Convention (1936), which allowed for the remilitarization of the area of the Straits. The fact that there is no explicit reference to these islands in the Montreux Convention is considered by Greece to be of little significance, since the preamble to the convention expressly states that it replaces the Lausanne Convention. The Greek position is also supported by: • A letter dated 6 May, 1936 sent from Turkey's Ambassador to Athens, Ru¸en E¸ref, to Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, in which he expressly stated: “On behalf of my government […] we are entirely in agreement with the militarization of these two islands [i.e. Lemnos and Samothrace], at the same time as the arming of the Straits”. • The statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Tevfik Rü¸tü Aras, made to the Turkish Grand National Assembly on the 31st of July 1936 during the procedure for the ratification of the Montreux Convention, according to which: “The provisions pertaining to the islands of Lemnos 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”. Finally, it is legally absurd to conclude that the obligations for demilitarization remained for the Greek islands of Lemnos and Samothrace, while they were abolished for Imbros (Gökçeada), Tenedos (Bozcaada) and Lagouses/Mavries/ Rabbit Islands (Tavs ºan adalarι) which are under Turkish sovereignty. None of the above islands, Greek or Turkish, are expressly mentioned in the Montreux Convention. According to Turkey, Lemnos and Samothrace are not connected to the security of the Straits. They are linked to Turkey's security and their demilitarization remained in force; Tevfik Rü¸tü Aras’ statement to the Turkish parliament was a wish of a political and not legal nature.