Today: January 17 2019
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Erdogan calls on Greece to build mosques

Erdogan calls on Greece to build mosques

Tags: Greece, Turkey, Erdogan, Politics, International Relations,

The two-day visit of the Turkish president is sensational by the very fact: Erdogan is the first head of Turkey in Greece for the last 65 years, the last time there was Jalal Bayar in 1952.

But the course of the visit was very unusual. It's no secret that relations between the two neighboring countries are very difficult. Here, as a long-standing story, Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830 after a brutal war. Many people on both sides perished before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. A protracted conflict was around Cyprus with its Greek and Turkish populations.

A serious aggravation between these two members of NATO happened in 1996 year because of two uninhabited islands in the Aegean Sea. And only this year the Greeks counted more than three thousand violations of their airspace from Turkey. In addition, in recent years, Turkey's relations with European partners have become seriously complicated, both around the refugee crisis, and about respect for human rights and the threat of democracy in Turkey. In such a historical context, any step towards should be welcomed, and the Greeks rendered to Rejep Erdogan all reputable supreme honors.

At the same time, in Athens, unprecedented security measures were taken, with snipers on the roofs, additional police units and patrols with dogs. But the Turkish leader did not much bother with diplomatic restraint, which often put the Greek leadership in a delicate situation.

Already an hour after the arrival, he told the President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopulos that Greece would never become a member of NATO, if not for the support of Turkey. Then he demanded protection of the religious rights of the compactly residing Thracian Turks, and then spoke out for the "modernization" of the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923, which determines, among other things, the borders between the two countries.

Pavlopoulos was forced to recall that the Treaty of Lausanne formed the basis of the basic documents of the European Union and is not subject to revision. During the subsequent negotiations with the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras, Erdogan reproached the Greeks for neglecting the historical sights of the Ottoman era, the lack of mosques for Muslims, the unconstructive position of the Greek Cypriots who rejected the Turkish reunification plan.

In general, the Greeks were reprimanded for many positions, including the low living standards of the Turks in Thrace, the eastern province. Separately, the Turkish president practically demanded from Greece the extradition of eight Turkish officers who fled to this country after the coup attempt in July 2016. This circumstance is insulting to Turkey in itself, but even more because they are not issued because they doubt the fair and objective trial of them.

Tsipras, as he could, smoothed the corners that the Turkish leader strove to exaggerate: "Different approaches have always existed and will exist, it is important that we express our disagreement in a constructive way." Of course, one can not expect any great results from such a contradictory visit, the result is that the visit itself was possible. Some concrete joint neighborhood projects between Turkey and Greece can be expected with a high degree of probability as early as next year, when a joint meeting of the governments of the two countries will take place in Thessaloniki.

Leonid Shvets
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