The Greek Foreign Ministry reacted strongly on Sunday to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s repeated statements referring to a “Turkish minority” during his Sunday visit to Thrace, accusing him of repeatedly distorting reality.
Cavusoglu, who arrived in Athens, visited earlier on Sunday, among other things, a minority school, the grave of Sadik Ahmet, a former deputy and head of an openly pro-Turkish party, as well as Turkish-backed muftis. the towns of Komotini and Xanthi, which Greece does not recognize, having appointed others to these posts.
Greece regards the Thracian minority as religious, pointing to the diverse ethnic origins of its members, while Turkey insists on designating it as a Turkish ethnic minority, in violation of the Treaty of Lausanne, which the ministry reminded Turkey of its obligation to implement.
Turkey’s foreign minister posted a series of tweets of dubious diplomatic sensitivity as he spoke:
– In #Greece to meet members of the Turkish minority in #WesternThrace and discuss our bilateral relations.
– At #WesternThrace I first met mufti @muftu_iserif of #Komotini and mufti @muftu_ahmetmete of #Xanthi. The work of the muftis contributes greatly to the preservation and strengthening of the unity and solidarity of the Turkish minority.
– Visited Celal Bayar High School, one of two Turkish minority high schools in #WesternThrace. It is important that children of the Turkish minority of all ages benefit from an education in better conditions and in their mother tongue. We will continue to support our parents to solve these problems.
– Meeting with members of the Turkish Minority Advisory Council #WesternThrace. Emphasized that we will always be firmly at the side of the Turkish minority in its struggle for their rights and underlined once again our strong support. @bttadk
– Visited in #Komotini the grave of Dr. Sadık Ahmet, a true man of ideals who fought until his last breath for the protection of the rights of the Turkish minority. We salute all our parents who embrace the cause of Sadik Ahmet.
Leaving the Celal Bayar School, Cavusoglu had an impromptu Q&A with Turkish media. Said Turkey was aware of its ethnic minority’s ‘struggles’ in Greece and was working on them, talking to Greek government officials.
Here is the complete declaration by the spokesman of the ministry, Alexandros Papaioannou:
“Greece, rule of law, remains firmly committed to international law and the protection of human rights.
It fully implements the obligations arising from the Treaty of Lausanne, which makes explicit and clear reference to the Muslim minority in Thrace.
The Muslim minority in Thrace has approximately 120,000 Greek inhabitants.
Turkey’s constant attempts to distort this reality, as well as the allegations of alleged non-protection of the rights of these citizens, or of alleged discrimination, are unfounded and are rejected in their entirety.
Greece wishes to improve its relations with Turkey. Respect for international law is a prerequisite.
We call on Turkey to respect these fundamental rules, including the Treaty of Lausanne, which it has also signed and is bound to implement.
Cavusoglu and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, will meet for an informal dinner on Sunday. Official meetings with Dendias and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will follow on Monday.