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Erdogan Reiterates Support for Turkish Minority in Thrace September 15, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Trakya, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sent a congratulatory message to the Fraternity, Equality and Peace Party (DEP) in Greece to mark the 21st anniversary of the group, which was founded by members of the minority community in Thrace.

“Our kin in western Thrace has always had a special place in our hearts,” Erdoğan said. “That is why it is very important that our kin exercises their rights, which have been guaranteed by international agreements, to their full extent.”

He added: “We will always stand by the Turkish minority in western Thrace, as we have done up to this day. ” Erdogan is said to be keen to keep relations warm with Greece, despite political differences in a number of areas.

(Source: voanews)

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Athens, Newspapers Riled over Turkish Prime Minister’s ‘Minority’ Statement September 7, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Thrace, Trakya, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Greek newspapers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of provocation after Erdoğan referred to the Turks in western Thrace as the “Turkish minority,” daily Milliyet reported today.Erdoğan sent a congratulatory message to the Fraternity, Equality and Peace Party (DEP) in Greece to mark the 21st anniversary of the party, which was founded by members of the minority community there.

“Our kin in western Thrace has always had a special place in our hearts,” Erdoğan said in his message. “That is why it is very important that our kin exercises their rights, which have been guaranteed by international agreements, to their full extent.”

“We will always stand by the Turkish minority in western Thrace, as we have done up to this day,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish prime minister also expressed his hope that the minority in western Thrace and the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey would serve as “a bridge of friendship” between the two countries.

The Greek Foreign Ministry responded to Erdoğan’s message saying there was no such thing as a “Turkish minority” in the international agreements to which Erdoğan referred in his message.

Greek newspaper Demokratia carried the story with the headline “Erdoğan provokes” and said, “Erdoğan has shown his true colors once again. He calls Greek Muslims Turks and tries to appear as their benefactor.”

Etnos newspaper said, “Erdoğan’s government is very interested in creating a minority issue in Thrace, and they are very good at it.”

Official Greek numbers say around 49,000 ethnic Turks live in Thrace, while western Thrace culture and education associations put the number at around 150,000.

President Ivanov at Iftar dinner with Turkish PM Erdogan September 3, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Turkey.
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President Gjorge Ivanov met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his summer vacation in Turkey, attending an Iftar dinner in Istanbul on occasion of Muslim holiday Ramadan.

In his address, Ivanov congratulated the holiday, wishing for peace, love, tolerance and mutual understanding to prevail among believers, the President’s Cabinet said in a press release.

“I come from a country that nurtures the eternal tradition of multiethnic and multireligious coexistence, a benefit we are proud of. A benefit showing that our country belongs to the European family of nations and states. Our exceptional contribution as a country where religions, traditions and diverse ethnic groups cooperate in the building of a common home represents a proof that the region, Europe and the world can have a better future”, said Ivanov.

PM Erdogan voiced satisfaction from the fact that the Ramadan holiday was observed together with the Macedonian President, who showed respect to Muslim followers and strengthened traditionally close bilateral relations.

The Iftar dinner was attended by renowned individuals from the fields of politics, business, religion and public life.

During the evening, President Ivanov also met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Ivanov also congratulated Ramadan to Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul during Saturday’s telephone  conversation.

Interlocutors refereed to regional developments, reiterating excellent relations between Macedonia and Turkey, reads the press release.

Turkey, Greece move to solve Aegean dispute January 16, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday both Turkey and Greece were exerting efforts to end disputes over the Aegean sea, local media reported.

“We are exerting intense efforts to make the Aegean a sea of peace and friendship. And we are making progress,” Erdogan was quoted by the semi-official Anatolia news agency as saying at an inauguration ceremony of facilities for the 25th World University Winter Games slated for late this month in east Turkey’s Erzurum Province.

Visiting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he and Erdogan had worked together to improve the Turkish-Greek relationship, hailing the great potential for the two countries’ cooperation.

“We should forget the past’s rivalry and prejudices,” said Papandreou at the ceremony.

Turkey and Greece have been traditional rivals in the eastern Mediterranean. The two NATO countries came close to war due to a dispute over an uninhabited island in the Aegean Sea in 1996.

However, Turkish government’s “zero problem” policy with its neighbors has led to a relatively peaceful environment in relations since 2002, when the AK Party came into rule. The two countries have been discussing the dispute on Aegean in exploratory talks.

The Greek prime minister’s visit came amid debates over Athens’ plans to block part of its border with Turkey to stem illegal immigration into the European Union.

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News on Friday quoted an unnamed Greek diplomat as saying the measure was not against Turkey or its people.

 

Greece, Turkey move to bolster friendship amid migration debate January 13, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Turkish Foreign Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meets with his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou. AA photo
Turkish Foreign Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meets with his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou.

The prime ministers of Turkey and Greece agreed Friday to take further steps to bolster friendly relations between the two countries amid debates over Athens’ plans for a border barrier to block illegal immigration.

“We are expending efforts to turn the Aegean Sea into a lake of peace and friendship,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told an audience, including his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, gathered in a stadium in the Eastern Anatolian province of Erzurum.

“We should leave the mistakes of the past behind and build a world where peace reigns. We should transmit peace, love and respect to the next generations instead of a world dominated by fights, hatred or blood,” Erdoğan said. “Greece is Turkey’s neighbor to the west and we share a 206-kilometer border. This encounter is very meaningful.”

Papandreou, who arrived in Erzurum late Thursday, came to Turkey on the invitation of Erzurum, the host of the 2011 World University Winter Games, which begin Jan. 27. The Greek prime minister received a warm welcome from the local audience when he and Erdoğan inaugurated the city’s new sports facilities.

Turkey sent invitations the winter games to more than 50 countries, but officials said Friday the only rejection came from Israel, likely because of the unpopularity of winter sports in the country.

“We should forget the past’s rivalry and prejudices,” said Papandreou, who took the floor before the Turkish prime minister’s address, and had his speech interrupted a number of times by applause from locals. “We are honored and proud of our countries’ histories, but we would like to demolish the wall of prejudices.”

In his speech, Papandreou recalled a visit made by the Turkish prime minister in May to Athens, where he visited Greek team Paratinaiokos. “That stadium hosted the world’s first Olympics in 1896,” the Greek prime minister said. “There our goal was to convey the friendship message between Greece and Turkey to the entire world.”

The visiting prime minister underscored that he and Erdoğan had worked together to help improve the Turkish-Greek relationship. “The potential of our hearts is very big, so is the potential of our cooperation. I have brought with me the friendship message of the Greek people,” he said.

Papandreou vowed Greece would support Turkey’s candidacy to host the 2020 Olympics. His statement “Başarılar diliyorum,” which means, “I wish success” in Turkish, received a warm response from the audience.

Erdoğan said his encounter with Papandreou was very meaningful, adding that “on behalf of George, I am saluting the Greek people.” Later in the day, both prime ministers addressed a conference in Erzurum of Turkey’s ambassadors from all over the world.

Barrier is not against Turkey, says Athens

The Greek prime minister’s visit comes amid debates over Athens’ plans to block part of its border with Turkey to stem illegal immigration into the European Union. Greek diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the issue was discussed in a “cooperative spirit.”

“The barrier is one of the technical measures as part of a broader plan for better border protection and also improved management of the flow of illegal immigrants, which also includes a different asylum system [and] the creation of a special committee that will handle all the process of paperwork,” said a Greek diplomat who wished to remain anonymous.

Saying that the barrier would be implemented as part of this plan, but that the specifics had not been determined yet, the diplomat emphasized that the barrier was not a measure against Turkey.

“This measure is not against Turkey or its people. It is a measure in order to try to improve the [illegal immigration] situation. We always have in mind the best protection because we should never forget that they are the victims of the worst exploitation by traffickers,” the unnamed Greek diplomat said.

“We are going to work together with Turkey… We have technical meetings with Turkey and we will have more meetings for better cooperation between two countries. This is a common problem between the two countries but also a European problem,” he added.

The meeting of the Turkish and Greek leaders also comes after Israel signed an agreement with the Greek Cypriot administration to delineate an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, a move that drew criticism from Turkey. However, after this agreement was made, voices were heard even louder in Athens that Greece should also sign a similar agreement with Greek Cyprus, according to reports from the Greek capital.