Maloney Urges Sec. Tillerson to Reject Turkish President’s Remarks Regarding Turkish-Greek Borders

Dec 12, 2017
Press Release
Territorial terms of 1923 Treaty of Lausanne should be non-negotiable

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, today urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to affirm the United States’ support of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s suggestion that it should be renegotiated.

In her letter to the Secretary, Congresswoman Maloney asserts that “the United States should make clear that the territorial terms of the Treaty are non-negotiable and that it will not accept Turkish instigation of border disputes in an area that has been peaceful for nearly 100 years.”

She also states, “In my view, opening a border dispute over territories settled nearly 100 years ago is a provocative and dangerous suggestion, and I hope that the United States will do everything in its power to discourage Turkey from pursuing this line of diplomacy.”

Full text of the letter can be found below and a PDF here.

Dear Secretary Tillerson,

As co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, I was concerned by news reports that indicate that, during a recent visit to Greece, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that it would be appropriate to reopen discussions of border issues settled in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.  I understand that President Erdogan stated in an interview with the Greek daily Kathimerini and reiterated at a press conference with the Greek president that there should be an ‘update’ to the Lausanne Treaty.  He also reportedly expressed his view that the treaty was unfair because it assigned islands to Greece that are situated close to Turkey’s shores. In my view, opening a border dispute over territories settled nearly 100 years ago is a provocative and dangerous suggestion, and I hope that the United States will do everything in its power to discourage Turkey from pursuing this line of diplomacy.

I represent a large community of Greek-Americans who are deeply unsettled by the possibility that Turkey may claim land that has been recognized as Greek for nearly a century.  As you know, Greece first demanded its independence from Turkey starting on March 25, 1821 after 400 years of Ottoman rule.  While many parts of Greece won independence in 1829, border disputes continued until after World War I. The Treaty of Lausanne, considered the final treaty concluding World War I, established the final borders of Turkey after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and designated the Dodecanese Islands to Greece. Turkey is now insinuating that the Treaty should be reopened and perhaps that some of those islands should be allocated to Turkey. I believe the United States should make clear that the territorial terms of the Treaty are non-negotiable and that it will not accept Turkish instigation of border disputes in an area that has been peaceful for nearly 100 years.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to hearing your views on this issue.

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