Greece on Friday accused neighboring Turkey of endangering ties between the two NATO allies by questioning the wisdom of an almost century-old treaty that established the modern boundaries between the two countries.
At the Ankara speech on Thursday, Erdogan said: “We gave away islands to Greece that we could reach with a shout in Lausanne. Is this victory? They tried to trick us into believing that Lausanne was a victory.
“Those who sat at that table did not do right by that treaty. Now, we suffer its setbacks.”
Ties between Greece and Turkey have suffered strains over the years, because of squabbles over sea boundaries between the two countries and because of divided Cyprus, ethnically split between its Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations since 1974.
The two countries almost went to war over an uninhabited islet in the Aegean in 1996. But tensions have eased over the years, particularly after each rushed to the other’s aid in separate earthquakes affecting both countries in 1999.
Mr. Erdogan’s remarks angered both the Greek government and the Turkish opposition.
“Questioning the Treaty of Lausanne, which established norms in Greco-Turkish relations (and) the status quo in the Aegean and its islands, is dangerous to relations between the two countries and to the broader region,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s office quoted him as telling senior government officials.
Greece, Tsipras said, would not respond in a similar manner.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos warned Turkey not to pursue “dangerous paths”.
“Efforts to cast doubt on international treaties lead to dangerous paths,” said Mr Kammenos on Friday, urging Turkey not to “pursue” those paths.
Turkey’s main opposition CHP party – whose late leader negotiated the treaty – said Lausanne had reversed the tough conditions of a previous treaty that had been negotiated by leaders of the Ottoman Empire.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said Lausanne was “Turkey’s deed” and questioned why Mr Erdogan had raised the issue while there was “unemployment, corruption and people chasing after their lives” across Turkey, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.