Dec 08 2017

Disastrous Erdoğan Greece visit leaves purpose unclear

Greek officials were left wondering why Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accepted their invitation to pay a state visit – the first by a Turkish head of state in 65 years – when it soon became clear he had little nice to say to them.

“(Erdoğan) chastised the Greeks for failing to look after Ottoman sites and provide a proper place of worship for Muslims,” liberal British newspaper the Guardian said.

“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.”

Erdoğan had begun the visit by telling a Greek television channel and then Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos that he wanted a “modernisation” of the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which had laid out the borders between the two states.

“The Treaty of Lausanne defines the territory and the sovereignty of Greece, and of the European Union, and this treaty is non-negotiable,” Pavlopoulos responded. “It has no flaws, it does not need to be reviewed, or updated.”

Erdoğan went on to demand the return of eight Turkish officers who escaped Turkey in the aftermath of a July 2016 failed coup attempt, but Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told him that the government could not interfere in the judiciary.

“Looking on in dismay – Greek ministers exchanging knowing smiles around him – 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,” the Guardian said.