August 15
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At a European Council summit this week, European Union leaders are expected to criticize Turkey for its handling of disputes with neighboring Greece, EURACTIV reported.

The European Council will say it expects Turkey to fully respect international law, de-escalate tensions in the interests of regional stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and sustain good neighborly relations, media reports said, citing a copy of a document it obtained.

According to the draft, Turkey must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all EU member states.

Turkey and Greece are mired in territorial disputes that have almost led to direct military clashes, most recently in 2020 when Greek warships approached a Turkish ship exploring for natural gas off a Greek island. Although both neighbors deny accusing each other of territorial violations, military tensions have risen again in the past three months as the two countries accused each other of violating their airspace and Turkey conducted military drills near Greek islands adjacent to the Turkish coastline.

Turkey has demanded that Greece stop arming its islands in the Aegean Sea, arguing that they should be demilitarized in accordance with the Lausanne Treaty, signed early last century. Greece argues that circumstances have changed radically since then and the restrictions no longer apply. The two governments have sent letters to the United Nations outlining their contradictory positions.

Greece and Turkey are also feuding over migrants and Turkey's takeover of the island of Cyprus. Turkey has stationed 30,000 troops in northern Cyprus, controlled by Turkish Cypriots, since 1974, when it invaded. The Republic of Cyprus, governed from the south by Greek Cypriots, is a member of the EU and represents the entire island in EU affairs.

In an interview with the Athens News Agency, a source in diplomatic circles said it was unlikely that Turkey would raise the issue of demilitarization of the Greek islands at a NATO summit.

“Erdogan could raise the issue of demilitarisation of the islands only if the problem with Sweden and Finland was not resolved by the Madrid Summit in order to distract from the main problem which is the accession of the two Scandinavian countries”, the diplomat said.

“If this happens, the Greek side will explain calmly, as always, that the NATO Summit is not the right place to make such absurd claims”, the source added.

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