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Erdogan riles Greek hosts with revisionist talk
December 08, 2017
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Athens: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a state visit to Greece on Thursday, the first by a Turkish head of state in 65 years, by needling his hosts with revisionist border talk and complaints about its treatment of Muslims.

In what he called a “historic” visit, Erdogan said Athens was neglecting the Muslim minority of Turkish origin that lives in northern Greece, and accused the European Union of ignoring promises of financial support given last year in return for Turkey’s help in stemming refugee flows.

“The European Union... has not put into effect any of the promises it gave on the economic side (whereas) we are abiding by our commitments,” Erdogan told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

Pavlopoulos, one of the country’s foremost law experts, insisted that Greece had no intention of revising the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, a defining document in Greek-Turkish relations, as Erdogan has repeatedly suggested.

“This treaty is non-negotiable for us... it requires no revision nor update,” he said.

Erdogan argued that agreements can be “updated” and claimed Greece was failing to adhere to the treaty regarding the Muslim minority.

Contrary to the treaty, Athens appoints religious jurists known as muftis instead of allowing the local community to do so, Erdogan said.

“Certain things must change. And protecting the rights of our fellow ethnic (Turks) is a top priority for us,” he said.

Erdogan, who visited Greece twice as prime minister in 2004 and 2010, will travel privately Friday to the northeastern region of Thrace where the Muslim minority lives.

Further souring the two-day trip, Erdogan said in an interview Wednesday that airspace and territorial borders could “be improved”.

Relations have been plagued by territorial disputes in the Aegean, with the two NATO allies nearly going to war in 1996 over uninhabited islands.

There are often confrontations when Turkish warplanes enter airspace that Greece claims as its own, prompting Greek authorities to scramble jets in response.

“Airspace and territorial waters and the different measurements can be improved,” Erdogan told Greece’s Skai TV on Wednesday.

Agence France-Presse

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