The Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu met in Athens on Friday to discuss about the upcoming launch of a new round of peace talks on Cyprus and on controversial bilateral issues including Turkey’s insistence on the existence of a Turkish minority in Thrace.
During a joint press conference, Venizelos stated that Greece does not recognize a Turkish state in northern Cyprus and pointed out that any proposed solution on Cyprus must be approved by the Cypriot people in a referendum.
Davutoglu said that Turkey was willing to contribute to a solution on Cyprus. He also brought up Ankara’s claims regarding a Turkish minority in Thrace, in northern Greece. “The issue of our minorities must be considered as an opportunity, a bridge that can unite the two nations” he said.
The two politicians also discussed illegal immigration, Greek EU presidency and issues of potential cooperation as well as issues of religious freedom that were high on the agenda.
According to “Kathimerini”, Davutoglou, avoided discussions on Turkey’s plans to turn the Aghia Sofia Orthodox Church in Istanbul into a mosque, saying only that, “Ankara honors international laws in such matters.”
Speaking on the same issue, the Greek Minister noted that member states of the United Nations and UNESCO must ensure the protection of all monasteries of global cultural significance.
In regards to the construction of a mosque in Athens, Venizelos said he anticipates the completion of the project which is necessary for Muslims in Greece in order to be able to exercise their religious duties. The Turkish Foreign Minister welcomed the acceleration of the project.