Athens, newspapers riled over Turkish prime minister's 'minority' statement
AA photoGreek newspapers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of provocation after Erdoğan referred to the Turks in western Thrace as the "Turkish minority," daily Milliyet reported today.
Erdoğan sent a congratulatory message to the Fraternity, Equality and Peace Party (DEP) in Greece to mark the 21st anniversary of the party, which was founded by members of the minority community there.
"Our kin in western Thrace has always had a special place in our hearts," Erdoğan said in his message. "That is why it is very important that our kin exercises their rights, which have been guaranteed by international agreements, to their full extent."
"We will always stand by the Turkish minority in western Thrace, as we have done up to this day," Erdoğan said.
The Turkish prime minister also expressed his hope that the minority in western Thrace and the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey would serve as "a bridge of friendship" between the two countries.
The Greek Foreign Ministry responded to Erdoğan's message saying there was no such thing as a "Turkish minority" in the international agreements to which Erdoğan referred in his message.
Greek newspaper Demokratia carried the story with the headline "Erdoğan provokes" and said, "Erdoğan has shown his true colors once again. He calls Greek Muslims Turks and tries to appear as their benefactor."
Etnos newspaper said, "Erdoğan's government is very interested in creating a minority issue in Thrace, and they are very good at it."
Official Greek numbers say around 49,000 ethnic Turks live in Thrace, while western Thrace culture and education associations put the number at around 150,000.