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Turkish defense minister says Greece should demilitarize islands

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar claimed on Saturday that Greece is violating international law by “arming” islands in the Aegean and called on his Greek counterpart to demilitarize them, the Ekathimerini news website reported, citing Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

“Greece is violating international law and treaties by arming the Aegean islands, which are under demilitarized status,” he was quoted as telling Anadolu. “The demilitarized status of these islands should be protected and continued.”

He said Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis should “take necessary measures” on this issue as part of “sincere, constructive and good bilateral relations.”

Responding to Akar, Greek foreign ministry spokesperson Alexandros Gennimatas rejected the call, saying Greece is exercising its rights according to international law.

“The raising of such issues by the Turkish side, particularly when it threatens with war a sovereign country, in the case it exercises a legitimate sovereign right stemming from international law, does not rise to the level or relations that Greece, as a democratic and European country, wishes to foster with all its neighbouring countries,” he said in a statement quoted by Ekathimerini.

“Since Turkey claims to respect good neighbourly relations, it should learn to respect international law as it stands, and not in the arbitrary way interprets it.”

He also called on Turkey to de-escalate tensions and build trust and stop its “continuous fruitless provocations.”

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