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Enlarged Photograph (66kB)

Territorial reconstruction
Cyprus, northern Epirus
The Dodecanese

The Dodecanese

The issue of the Dodecanese was also broached by the Greek side in the negotiations for Greece's postwar territorial map. The Greek efforts for incorporating the islands in the Greek national territory had bore fruits with the 1919 Venizelos-Tittoni agreement: the Dodecanese would be ceded to Greece, except for Rhodes which would remain under Italian occupation.

Not only was the agreement eventually annulled, but also the fate of the Dodecanese became further implicated in the Greek-Turkish conflict of 1920-23. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) did not contain a definite regulation of the problem, as the Italian delegation refused to discuss the issue. However, Italy continued to de facto occupy the islands and refused to apply the principle of self-determination to the Dodecanese. The British desire to appease and lure the Italian dictator to the western camp in mid-1920s resulted in the official recognition of the Italian domination on the Dodecanese by the British government.

However, as Italy had participated in a war against Britain from 1940 onwards, the Greek government felt that it possessed an additional argument (on top of the ethnological and historical ones) for reclaiming the islands. Although Britain had pinpointed the Dodecanese as a possible territorial prize for luring Turkey out of the neutrality policy and into the anti-Axis coalition in 1941, the Greek government insisted upon the cession of the islands to Greece.

The attitude of the British side on this particular territorial issue was more positive, as the ethnological argument was unshakeable and the will of the indigenous population of the islands was well known and repeatedly declared. The only substantial obstacle was a strategic consideration - Turkey's desire to safeguard the defence of her Aegean coast opposite the Dodecanese. However, as soon as mutual satisfactory reassurances were given to Turkey, the die had been cast for the cession of the islands to Greece - this happened with the Treaty of Paris in 1947.

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