Name of Greek city causes diplomatic crisis between Turkey, Greece
Bekir Bozdağ stops on the road connecting the Turkish and Greek border gates to greet the soldiers from the two countries. AA photo
Two Turkish dignitaries were refused entry into Greece because their places of birth were listed as Komotini's Turkish name of "Gümülcine" in their passports, daily Hürriyet reported today.
The general director of the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), Halit Eren; Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mehmet Müezzinoğlu; and his wife, Faize Müezzionoğlu, were accompanying Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ during a trip to western Thrace.
The delegation was set to visit certain locations in western Thrace by land and made their exit from the İpsala border gate in the Turkish province of Edirne but was denied entry at the Kipi border gate in Greece.
Greek officials refused entry to Eren, Müezzinoğlu and his wife on the grounds that their passports stated their places of birth as "Gümülcine," the Turkish word for Komotini.
The situation was quickly reported to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who in turn advised the embassy in Athens to contact the Greek Foreign Ministry. The matter was carried to the office of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as other measures failed to bear results.
Eren, Müezzinoğlu and his wife had to break from the group and return to Turkey to have their passports renewed to display their place of birth as Komotini. The trio was granted entry the next day after the city name on their passports was changed.
He said the Greeks were enforcing a recently enacted agreement between Greece and Turkey that requires Turks born in Greece to use the Greek name of their place of birth and Greeks born in Turkey to use the Turkish name of their place of birth.
“I have been to Western Thrace numerous times but this regulation was never enforced by Greece,” Müezzinoğlu said. "Greece does what suits it.”