A day after the visit of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greece, the Press continued referring to the outcome of it.
During his return trip from Alexandroupolis (Northern Greece) to Turkey, the Turkish president spoke to the directors of the Turkish media. Erdogan argued that “what I said about Lausanne when speaking to a television network were irritating to some people. There were those who jumped to the conclusion that we have territorial aspirations over Greece. I said nothing of the kind, we have no territorial aspirations over other countries. If deemed necessary, the Treaty of Lausanne could be updated. This is what I said to Mr. Pavlopoulos. Here, we do update our laws in our parliament. Treaties can also be updated. This has become some people’s obsession. I have spoken about this with Mr. Tsipras, too.
They built a mosque without a minaret!
The Turkish president also referred to the Athens mosque. Speaking of the mosque, I told them, ‘you built something that does not look like a mosque at all. It does not even have a minaret. You told us you would open it in two days, but you did anything about it. In our culture there is no mosque without a minaret. Erdogan spoke in a positive way about Prokopis Pavlopoulos and said he was among the first who called him on the night of the attempted coup (July 15, 2016).
“I personally saw the tears of our compatriots and those of the mothers of the nearly 150,000 of our compatriots in Komotini, of our brothers. Where is hope? Hope is in Turkey. They are looking to Turkey (for this hope)”, said the Turkish president during his speech at the patent conference in Istanbul.
Part of his speech was unrelated to the conference as the Turkish president argued that Greece did not take the necessary steps to educate members of the Thrace minority. He also spoke about Xanthi (another Greek prefecture in the north of the country), which he did not visit!
“Just think… 65 years ago Celal Bayar (former president of Turkey) had visited the place when he was holding the presidential post and they (local authorities) had opened a school named after Bayar, but later on they could not even stand his (Bayar’s) name, so now, his name has been scratched off. How can this be possible? Why such religious intolerance? There are not many schools in Xanthi and if there are, they are in ruins. Come and we will build you as many schools as you want. This is what I told the Greek authorities. We have no problem,” said the Turkish president.
When Erdogan talks about schools that Greece wants to open, he refers to the Greek minority schools, such as those that were recently opened on Imbros (Gökçeada) island. However, there are only 2,000 Greeks left in Istanbul out of the 120,000 that used to live in the city, while on Imbros and Tenedos (Gökçeada and Bozcaada respectively) there are only 500 out of the 10,000 that used to inhabit these islands. The Greeks were forced to leave under the pressure put on them by the Turkish state, long before Erdogan came to power, and this is a reality.
The Turkish government has indeed made significant steps for the rights of the Greeks in Turkey and those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, however, this is happening at a time when Greeks are like an “endangered species”.
Erdogan appears as a leader who is fighting for the rights both of the Turkish and of Muslims of Thrace. The statement he made in Komotin when he said that the Turks, Roma and Pomaks of the region all have a common denominator, we are Muslims was not accidental.
In Turkey, they already discuss possible changes in the Treaty of Lausanne. There are diplomats who use the example of the Montreux Convention regarding the Regime of the Straits, that was signed 13 years later (than the Treaty of Lausanne) and changed many of the “rules” connected with the Straits.
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet refers to a Turkish diplomat who says that the conditions of the Turks of western Thrace should be improved. However, if we begin changing bits of the Lausanne Treaty, then everyone will want to have a certain point cut, and then, instead of gains, we might have losses.
Political analyst Deniz Zeyrek of Hurriyet newspaper reports that at a time when Turkey is isolated, it is not easy to predict the results of Lausanne Treaty’s updating efforts resulting while the Treaty is a result of a military victory. Erdogan’s reference to the serious problems faced by the Turks is inevitable. Through the Lausanne Treaty, the issue of the islands is now topping the news agenda and this is a response to the Republican People’s Party that talks of “our islands that are being occupied”. In a few words… both Ankara and Athens regard Lausanne as a title of property. Political warfare is nothing more than messages in the interior of a country’s political scene…/IBNA
Photo: Spiros Sideris