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Davutoglu wants to visit Thrace, Athens refuses

03 December 2014 / 13:12:24  GRReporter
1853 reads

Another diplomatic marathon between Athens and Ankara is taking place shortly before the joint meeting of the governments of Greece and Turkey on 4-5 December in Athens.

The reason is the request of Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu and his ministers to visit the region of Thrace, where there are populations of Muslims, immediately after the meetings of the Supreme Council for Cooperation between the two countries.

Sources from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to by the Greek media claim that such a visit is not scheduled in the programme of the Turkish government's visit to Greece.

They state that Ankara's request has embarrassed Athens not because it is unusual. The custom of Turkish ministers carrying out private visits to the region if they wish was initiated by the visit of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his capacity as Prime Minister in May 2005. Ahmed Davutoglu had visited Thrace in 2011, when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been there in 2010, when he was still Prime Minister.
As of today, however, the atmosphere in the relations between the two countries is tense because of Ankara's decision to send a research vessel to the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus and due to the daily violations of Greece's air space by Turkish military aircraft. Therefore, a visit to Thrace by the Turkish cabinet that would certainly include meetings with the minority party of the Turks and the so-called "Turkish associations" would be the last thing the Greek government would want.

According to an article in the Greek newspaper "Kathimerini", during his visit to Ankara Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos was informed by his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu that Turkey "expects Greece to take action in connection with the Turkish minority."

Diplomatic sources believe that this could negatively affect the atmosphere of the meeting, diminishing the expectations for improvement in the bilateral relations. Therefore, Athens has refused to give permission for a visit to Thrace.

At the same time, the programme of the visit of Ahmed Davutoglu to Greece has not yet been specified and the talks are underway. The Greek commentators do not exclude that he will eventually go to the region of Thrace, but within the context of a private rather than of an official visit.

Tags: PoliticsAhmed DavutogluThraceHellenic Ministry of Foreign AffairsSupreme Council for Cooperation between Greece and Turkey
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