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What Changes Will Erdogan's Visit to Greece Bring?

Daily Sabah

On December 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a historical visit to Greece. Foreign Minister Cavusoglu had already announced about this visit on November 23, which caused hot debates among different audiences.

The matter is that this is the first visit of the Turkish President to Greece over the past 65 years. Last visit to Greece at the level of President was made by Celal Bayar in 1952. In addition, Cavusoglu expressed hope that the visit would be of great importance in terms of the development of cooperation between the two countries.

Although Cavusoglu's statement caused public debates, it should not be forgotten that Erdogan visited Greece in 2010 as Prime Minister, and at that time, before the constitutional reform, the prime minister had very large powers, so this visit was not as unprecedented as it might seem at first glance.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, more than 3,000 people in Greece are responsible for Erdogan's security, and tremendous measures are being taken in that direction.

The visit follows the arrest of nine Turkish citizens in Athens who are charged with a coup d'etat on the Revolutionary National Liberation Party which was responsible for the bombings carried out by suicide bombers. According to some rumors, the terrorists plotted something on the occasion of Erdogan's visit. This could be a reason for such large-scale security measures. All this means that the parties attach great importance to Erdogan's two-day visit and have positive expectations for the issues to be discussed.

During a meeting with President Pabopulos, Erdogan raised the issue of reconsidering the Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923. In response to that the President of Greece replied that it is not a subject to review and is out of the question.

It is noteworthy that during the conversation with Greek TV, Erdogan said that the negative phenomena in the Turkish-Greek relations are already in the past, Hürriyet writes.

In the same interview, Erdogan expressed hope that the Turkish and Greek people would be more tolerant towards each other, which is the best guarantee of the development of bilateral relations.

However, the 63-year-old Turkish leader, while thanking his hosts for the welcome, continued to ratchet up the rhetoric, The Guardian reports.

In subsequent talks with the Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, Erdogan chastised the Greeks for failing to look after Ottoman sites and provide a proper place of worship for Muslims. Cyprus, he argued, had not been reunified because Greek Cypriots kept turning down a "just and sustainable" settlement. He also attacked the "economic chasm" between Greeks, who earned on average €15,000 a year, and the Turkish-speaking Muslim minority in northern Thrace who earned around €2,200 a year.

It should be reminded that back in July, the Crans Montana conference failed, in which Greece announced that Cyprus would continue its struggle to get out of the occupation and reunite. This once again proves that the sides are still far from reaching an agreement.

Besides, Erdogan continued, Athens should also return the eight Turkish officers who had escaped to Greece as the coup unfolded even if the country’s judicial system had blocked their repatriation on the grounds that they would not be given a fair trial. "It is possible to return them to Turkey, which is a country that has abolished the death penalty and is not a country of torture," he said during the press conference in the prime minister’s office.

Tsipras repeated that as the birthplace of democracy, where executive power was separate from the law, Greece respected decisions made by the country’s justice system.

So, the relations between Turkey and Greece continue to be tense. Even if we leave aside historical contradictions, the Greek-Turkish relations are not moving smoothly. And it is yet early to speak about the results of Erdogan's visit to Greece.

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