Law and History - Turkey’s demands of de militarization of the Dodecanese
The role of History in Politics was not only important in the Ancient Times when Euripides said the well-known “One is content, if one knows History” but has always been important.
A Politician should be a person with a good knowledge of History, as most of the issues have a historical aspect. Only a few of them can be solved. Most of them are being repeated and have the same, or almost the same parameters.
The historicity of a political issue or problem - to my opinion - should be examined and taken into consideration when trying to give a solution.
In the specific case of the Dodecanese, we should examine if Turkey has been a part of the Paris International Convention of 1947. Turkey has NOT been part of this treaty.
Therefore, the next question to ask is, based on International law, which are the rights of a country which has not been part of an International treaty?
In its clause no.34, the Vienna Convention does not give any right to third countries. So, Turkey does not have any right to abolish or change the specific agreement and as a result, Turkey’s arguments or objections are legally non valid.
Turkey and the Ottoman Empire have never owned the Dodecanese or any rock of it since the beginning of the existence of the Turkish state and/or the Ottoman Empire. Greece has recovered the Dodecanese islands from the Brits after World War II.
Greece exercising its right of self-defense - which is internationally recognized - has militarized the islands and none of the countries that signed the Paris Convention of 1947 have protested against it.
In the meantime, Turkey has invaded Cyprus (in 1974) and has created the Aegean Army. Therefore, the differences between Greece and Turkey are not the result of an effort to implement the International Law of the Sea of 1982, nor the pending issue of the Cyprus problem falls to the non-acceptance of the Turkish Cypriots to accept a logical solution, but to Turkey's control over the Turkish Cypriots.
The differences lie to Turkey"s efforts and vision to be a leader of the Muslim world, and to be recognized as a peripheral power, so that no action will take place in the East Mediterranean without Turkey’s control and approval.
While Turkey is denouncing other countries for having a mentality of colonialism, Turkey itself is asking for rights which belonged to the Ottoman Empire, such as having the role of a colonial power without always accepting that it is the successor state of the Ottoman Empire especially when it is related to the ethnic cleansing of the populations in this region.
Therefore, it is important to see what the Government in Athens means when they refer to the term of de-escalation as well as the base of any negotiations (Yiavouz or Barbaros withdraw from the Cyprus sea?)
All differences between Greece and Turkey and Cyprus-Turkey must be resolved with negotiations in a peaceful way. That is why it is of utmost importance to agree on a solid and specific agenda as this will be the negotiations basis in accordance with International law.
It is obvious that Turkey is working towards a review of all conditions and agreements having as criteria its interests and its power.
by Nikos Koutsou
EDP Honorary President and Former member of Cyprus Parliament