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Reader comment on item: Kastelorizo Updates
in response to reader comment: couple things

Submitted by Anthony, Jul 29, 2020 at 10:14

Well, Professor Rozakis gave a skype interview to a local "CreteTV" channel, where he said that, based on some previous Int/Court decisions on maritime disputes in other parts of the world, that due to its "remoteness" from the rest of the Dodecanese and other Greek island chains, Kastelorizo should end up having "reduced effect" on the demarcation of economic zones and that Greece should perhaps retreat from the "maximalist" assertion that the usual equidistant principle should be applied in the case of Kastelorizo because it makes "dialogue" with Turkey even more difficult than it already is.

His remarks caused a good deal of controversy in Greece but apparently they were also instantly seized upon and distorted by the Turkish propaganda machine in order to say "see even their own professors admit that Turkey is right and that Greece's claims are outrageous".

Of course the actual Turkish view is not that the "small" and "distant" Kastelorizo should end up having "reduced effect" but that no Greek island not even Crete or Euboea (which is a huge island literally a few meters away from the Greek mainland) has any right to participate in the demarcation of maritime zones (or indeed that it has any right to an airspace judging by the regular unauthorized overflights by Turkish fighter jets and drones.) Which is pretty wild considering that Greece is a quisi-archipelagic nation with about 1/5 of its sovereign land surface made of islands (even more if you include territorial waters/airspace of said islands).

On top of that Turkey puts forward an extra set of outlandish demands and prerequisites for entering negotiations such as for example demanding that all eastern Aegean islands be demilitarized which is obviously a nonstarter for Greece given that the country asking for those islands to be disarmed is the same country which makes little effort to hide its desire to seize them as soon as the opportunity presents itself. (Not to mention the Turkish army's well-known habit to casually cross the borders of neighboring states like Syria and Iraq.)

You are correct that, at the moment, Turkish propaganda has chosen to focus most of its attention on Kastelorizo because this is the spot where they believe they have the strongest argument vs Greece both from a legal and a propagandistic point of view. It's also part of their wider strategy because if they get what they want in Kastelorizo by "attacking" it first they can create a "legal precedent" which they could later invoke against other islands.

As for the soldiers being ordered to stand down I find it quite difficult to imagine any Greek government giving such an order (and I'm not even sure the Greek army could obey if given such orders.) What I think is more likely to follow any Turkish attempt at seizing Kastelorizo is a full scale artillery barrage into Turkey as far as Greek guns and missiles can reach, or even the Greek armoured brigades advancing on Adrianople.

At least that's the kind of retaliation that the Greek Armed Forces Chief of Staff hinted at in some statements he made a couple months ago. Also, keep in mind that when I mentioned there are soldiers on Kastelorizo itself, I didn't mean a couple observers maintaining a radar. If my info is correct, the garrison on Kastelorizo and its adjacent uninhabited islets consists of a few hundred troops including special forces heavily equipped with all sorts of artillery not to to mention the presence of an entire mechanized Division based in "nearby" Rhodes, whose multiple rocket launchers systems (MLRS) have more than enough range to cover Kastelorizo and even lay waste to a good portion of southwestern Turkey and to any large concentrations of Turkish forces. (I don't think Greece would have placed those forces there if they were planning to simply stand down and surrender Kastelorizo without a fight.)

And I suspect this is also the kind of retaliation which Erdogan expects from Greece, otherwise I think he probably would have already done what you've suggested.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I am glad to learn of your faith in the Greek armed forces and the political will behind them.

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