Greece’s militarization of Pserimos (Keçi) Island, 8 kilometers (5 miles) southwest of southwestern Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula, and its deployment of soldiers there was recently filmed by Anadolu Agency (AA).
The Dodecanese islands group in the Aegean Sea contains several rocky areas, islets and islands with yet-undetermined status. Pserimos Island, which is located between the Greek islands of Kos and Kalymnos, is the closest island to the Turgutreis neighborhood in the resort city of Bodrum.
Pserimos, which is supposed to remain uninhabited and demilitarized according to international law, hit the headlines with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recent visit to the island.
Mitsotakis shared a photo of the Greek flag drawn on the island on his social media account.
The footage recorded the Greek troops and heavy weapons deployed on the island.
Accordingly, a helipad, four prefabricated buildings, guard and watch towers, transmitters, water tanks, and solar panels can clearly be seen.
Greek soldiers are seen in their military camouflage around stone structures resembling trenches or shelters.
Also, Greek artillery batteries, though covered, around the Greek flag drawn on the land can be spotted.
Gürsel Tokmakoğlu, a retired senior air force officer and security analyst, said Pserimos is a Turkish island due to its proximity to the Turkish mainland under Article 12 of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.
Tokmakoğlu told AA that Greece wants to claim Pserimos by deploying troops and heavy weapons on the Turkish island, which is a clear violation of international law.
The facilities on the island, as well as the weapons, should not exist on the island, this is what the Treaty of Lausanne requires, he further said.
“Building a facility at a point just across Turkey, putting a (Greek) flag on an area where it can be seen by fishermen and tour boats sailing from Turkey actually constitutes a provocation,” he argued.
Despite Turkey’s opposition and the obligations arising from international agreements, Greece has been militarizing the islands since 1960, violating their non-military status.
Although Greece accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1993, it made a stipulation about “national security interests” to prevent the issue of eastern Aegean islands from being referred to the ICJ.
The islands of Samothraki, Lemnos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Psara, and Ikaria are supposed to be demilitarized, but Greece continues to violate the agreements by deploying brigades and divisions, as well as cannons and rifles.
Greece adopts the same attitude in the islands of Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Tilos, Karpathos, Symi, Rhodes and Kastellorizo, and violates the law in nine of the 14 Dodecanese islands.
In total, Athens has now militarized 16 islands in the eastern Aegean.
Turkey has rejected the militarization of the islands by Greece since the very beginning, protesting the Greek policy of violating the non-military status of the islands since the 1960s.
Ankara has issued protests through diplomatic channels and requested the violations to stop. The issue came to the United Nations and NATO agenda in the 1970s.
The latest Turkish diplomatic move was to send a letter of complaint to the United Nations in July 2021, saying the militarization of the islands posed a serious threat to Turkey’s security.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the sovereignty over the islands would be questionable in the scenario that Athens has maintained its violations.