Erdogan and others are not pleased with the Treaty of Lausanne: another example of Turkey’s expansionist ambitions

by omouggos

The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 (image from

The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 (image from

On July 24, 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne was signed establishing the nation of Turkey and bringing the Ottoman Empire to an end. To some in Turkey the treaty is respected and defended as it represents the founding of the modern Turkish republic. As Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, says “Lausanne is Turkey’s deed.1

However, not all in Turkey share this view. None other than President Erdoğan, and one would presume a good chunk of the AKP and its supporters, are against the Treaty of Lausanne. On September 30 Erdoğan gave a speech in which he stated:2

“July 15 [coup attempt] is the second War of Independence for the Turkish nation. Let us know it like that. They [threatened] us with Sèvres in 1920 and persuaded us to [accept] Lausanne in 1923. Some tried to deceive us by presenting Lausanne as victory. In Lausanne, we gave away the [now-Greek] islands that you could shout across to

We are still struggling about what the continental shelf will be, and what will be in the air and the land. The reason for this is those who sat at the table for that treaty. Those who sat there did not do [us] justice, and we are reaping those troubles right now. If this coup had succeeded, they would have given us a treaty that would have made us long for Sèvres”

A similar sentiment was expressed by İbrahim Melih Gökçek, the mayor of Ankara, when he tweeted “Due to the Treaty of Lausanne, The blue islands [all the Greek Aegean islands] shown below were given to Greece…And still Some people shamelessly say that’s a success…3 The displeasure of Erdoğan and Gökçek arise because they believe that the Greek islands of the Aegean are rightfully Turkish territory. Furthermore they must be particularly vexed that it was the Treaty of Lausanne that brought an end to the Ottoman Empire.

Now one may argue that while Erdoğan may be making a stink over the issue, in reality his words are just rhetoric and they will come to nothing. Such a view is highly naive to say the least. I have already made numerous posts on Turkey’s habitual violations of Greek airspace–over 2,000 times in 2014 alone–and territorial waters.4 Most recently, during the month of September, there were numerous instances of Turkish submarines traversing Greek territorial waters near the islands of Lemnos, Samothrace, Chios, Lesvos, Rhodes, Karpathos, Kastelorizo and Crete.5 Turkey’s incessant violation of Greek territory is no accident, it is merely a manifestation of her view that the Aegean and all the islands therein are in fact Turkish territory.

Thus far Turkey’s violations of Greek territory have only been transient, yet other countries have not been so fortunate. On August 24 the Turkish military has invaded northern Syria in operation Euphrates Shield. The ostensible goal, with the help of various rebel groups, is to create an ISIL free zone in northern Syria, but in reality Turkey seems more concerned with creating a Kurdish militia free zone in the area. The operation is ongoing and doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon.

Turkish troops have also set up base in the Mosul area of northern Iraq, again to supposedly assist local militias in fighting against ISIL. The Iraqi government has repeated warned Turkey to withdraw its forces but to no avail. The Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi has stated “We have asked the Turkish side more than once not to intervene in Iraqi matters, and I fear the Turkish adventure could turn into a regional war. … The Turkish leadership’s behavior is not acceptable, and we don’t want to get into a military confrontation with Turkey.6 Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim found such statements as being “unusually dangerous and provocative.7

In addition to invading other countries, Turkey has also been attempting to establish military bases in friendly foreign countries. Already Turkey has concluded such agreements with Qatar and Somalia.8

Based on Turkey’s recent behavior, their habitual violation of Greek territory, their invasion of Syria, their deployment of troops to Iraq against the will of that country and agreement to establish military bases in foreign countries, it should be quite clear that Erdoğan’s disdain for the Treaty of Lausanne is not mere rhetoric. Not only is he grieved that the treaty dissolved the Ottoman Empire, but he appears to be quite driven to rectify the damage done by it, through the use of force if necessary. As such it is only a matter of time before Erdoğan attempts to militarily recapture the Greek islands of the Aegeans.

O Mouggos





[4] The Hypocrisy of Turkey’s Downing of the Russian Su-24, A week of Turkey violating Greek territory , Turkish vessel harasses Greek fishermen of Good Friday




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