Greek island wants to join Austria

German MPs provoked outrage in Greece in 2010 with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the coutnry shoudl consider selling off some of its islands to settle its accounts. But it appears that some residents of the island of Ikaria is looking to leave the country unilaterally: Ikaria, a 250 square mile island, wants to leave ...

German MPs provoked outrage in Greece in 2010 with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the coutnry shoudl consider selling off some of its islands to settle its accounts. But it appears that some residents of the island of Ikaria is looking to leave the country unilaterally:

Ikaria, a 250 square mile island, wants to leave Greece and join Austria which is 1242 miles away from the small Greek island, Italian daily "Libero" reported.

The roots behind such a bizarre decision dated back to 1912 in the midst of the Turkish-Italian War. The islanders made advantage of that historical moment and declared their independence from the Ottoman Empire. In the same year, they signed a 100 year agreement to join Greece which is set to expire this week.

German MPs provoked outrage in Greece in 2010 with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the coutnry shoudl consider selling off some of its islands to settle its accounts. But it appears that some residents of the island of Ikaria is looking to leave the country unilaterally:

Ikaria, a 250 square mile island, wants to leave Greece and join Austria which is 1242 miles away from the small Greek island, Italian daily "Libero" reported.

The roots behind such a bizarre decision dated back to 1912 in the midst of the Turkish-Italian War. The islanders made advantage of that historical moment and declared their independence from the Ottoman Empire. In the same year, they signed a 100 year agreement to join Greece which is set to expire this week.

Now as the crisis takes its toll on the islanders, they think to join another European state for a better future.

"To remain independent is difficult for us; we want to connect to another state. Of course, we won’t ask Turkey; we prefer to join Austria," said an Ikaria resident according to the report.

The Greek embassy in Vienna was quick to quash the story:

Ikaria is an inseparable part of Greek national territory,” the embassy statement said and further explained that Greece is not governed on a federal basis, but as a unitary state, clarifying that there is no agreement between the government and the Greek islands, which would be subject to expiration.

The Greek diplomats explained that the island celebrated 100th anniversary of the revolution and liberation from the Ottoman Empire, but that the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, constitutes the legal basis for annexation of the East Aegean islands by Greece.

Given the hubbub over Macedonia, it’s a safe bet that Athens wouldn’t look to kindly on Austria even jokingly claiming its islands. Icarians yearning to be Austrians is probably an impossible dream worthy of their namesake. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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