Foreign Ministry on Greek-Turkish Issues

The Greek government on Wednesday, in reply to a question on whether Ankara called on Athens to provide benefits for the Muslim minority in Thrace in order to allow the reopening of the Halki School of Theology, reiterated that it only replies to official announcements and statements and does not comment on press reports.

Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos also noted that Greece is deepening a policy of equality before the law and equality of rights in compliance with the provisions contained in the Lausanne Treaty, when asked about the Muslim minority's status.

He added that the decisions of the European Courts that refer to human rights issues have great importance and are taken into serious consideration by a "European and democratic Greece".

Referring to the outcome of a visit to Turkey by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis last week, Koumoutsakos said the "crystal-clear political will of the two countries to intensify their efforts for a further improvement of bilateral relations has been recorded undoubtedly."

On the question of Cyprus, he said Greece stressed, on the one hand, the need for a normalisation of Turkey's relations with the Republic of Cyprus, which is a very important element in the neighbouring country's accession course and, on the other hand, as regards a solution, the Greek prime minister insisted that the agreement reached on July 8 is "the sole tangible basis with which a well-prepared process can begin to find a viable and workable solution."

(Posting date 28 November 2008)

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