Hurryiet Daily News — Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 23 lashed out at Greek defense minister’s remarks on the Aegean islands, saying that he will take back a total of 18 islands “occupied by Greece” in 2019, in a reference to the country’s elections in November.
“The Greek Defense minister says ‘Come and get it.’ I will come and take all of those islands back. Why am I saying this? They said ‘Come and get it’ for Cyprus back in the day. What did Ecevit (former prime minister) do? He went there and took it back,” Kılıçdaroğlu said speaking at a party event in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.
The debate over the Aegean islands sparked when the CHP leader criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 11 over his failure to raise the issue of “18 occupied islands” during his visit to the country.
The statement was evidently aimed at building popular support in Turkey before the national elections, but it also highlights the direction of Turkish policies in relation to its neighbour and the European Union whose external borders are being disputed.
Turkish claims on Greek islands since the 1990s have varied in numbers from 12 to 120.
The list of 18 include the islands of Dionisades, Koufonisi, Gaidouronisi and Gavdos, part of the Region of Crete.