Gov’t spokesman: Erdogan’s visit “of extremely high importance” to Greece

The visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greece on December 7 and 8 is of extremely high importance and meaning, State Minister and government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said during a briefing on Tuesday, as it is the first time in 65 years that a Turkish president is visiting Greece.

“We will welcome him and place on the agenda all important issues preoccupying both countries,” he said. “Obviously we will discuss the situation at the Aegean Sea, the migration issue, and the economic relations in terms of trade, transport and energy,” he added.

“We expect a substantial upgrading of our relations, as such a thing at a time of wider instability in the region will play a catalytic role in economic growth and in the improvement of the special relationships – between Greece and Turkey and between Turkey and the EU,” he said, adding that “we expect to have extremely constructive talks.”

Asked to comment on Erdogan’s plans to visit Thrace, Tzanakopoulos said “we are not facing the specific visit with any phobias; on the contrary, we believe that in the framework of exercising his religious beliefs, he will visit a region inhabited by people with the same religion as his.” The spokesman added that “it is a logical visit” and reiterated that “the government has explained in all possible ways that the Treaty of Lausanne is still applicable and binds all signatory parties.”

Tzanakopoulos said that Erdogan’s visit to Thrace will include “a pilgrimage and a private dinner – in other words, it will not include any other type of event.”

Among other things, the spokesman also said that the ministry of Migration has given specific clarifications about the government’s plan to relieve the islands from the pressure of unprocessed migrants, by allowing the transfer of sensitive groups and unaccompanied children to the mainland. The process has begun, he said, and the government’s goal is to accelerate the rate of transports so that living conditions on the island of the Aegean improve.