Erdogan Criticizes Lausanne Treaty: ‘We Gave Away the Greek Islands’

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    The Treaty of Lausanne signed on July 24, 1923, has been criticized by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for limiting the rump state envisioned by the Treaty of Sevres and creating the current borders of Turkey. Erdogan said that some have tried to pass off the peace treaty as a victory, as it essentially settled conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied States of Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece and Romania after World War I.

    In the treaty, Modern Turkey gave up claims to the remainder of the Ottoman Empire and, in return the Allies recognized Turkish sovereignty within its new borders. “They (threatened) us with Sevres in 1920 and persuaded us to accept Lausanne in 1923. Some tried to deceive us by presenting Lausanne as a victory. At Lausanne, we gave away the (Greek) islands that you could shout across to,” said Erdogan on Thursday at his 27th gathering of village chiefs in Ankara. “We are still struggling about what the continental shelf will be and what will be in the air and land. The reason for this is due to those who sat at the table during that treaty. Those who sat there did not do us justice and we are reaping those troubles right now. If the (recent) coup had succeeded, they would have given us a treaty that would have made us long for Sevres.”

    The peace treaty was signed by Ismet Inonu on July 24, 1923. He later succeeded Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as president. The treaty recognized the boundaries of Turkey and the conditions under which the then thriving non-Muslim minorities would live in the new republic.

    Turkey, of course had never quite adhered the terms of the Lausanne treaty for minority groups. The island of Imvros (now known as Gokceada) had a population of Greeks numbering 7,000 and 200 Turks, however, the Turkish policy of terrorizing Greeks from the island ensured that only 200 remained while Turks flooded to the island.

    Erdogan had referred to the Treaty of Lausanne again in May 2016. This time he criticized it for being unfair on the rights of minorities and urged for it to be “updated” so that minorities in Turkey should have the same rights as everyone else. He had made this statement during a news program aired by the A Haber TV station when asked about the new rights that a new constitution would bring to minority groups.