New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday afternoon, soon after the conservative party criticized the government’s handling of the visit.
Mitsotakis issued a statement following the discussion with Erdogan, which sources said was “frank and open,” and took place after the visiting head of state had called for the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne to be revised and questioned Greece’s treatment of the Muslim minority in Thrace.
“International law and international treaties create the framework and show the way,” said the opposition leader. “Any time they are questioned, this undermines good neighborly relations.”
Mitsotakis also called on Erdogan not to draw on history selectively. The conservative chief argued that when discussing the Muslim minority in Thrace, it should be noted that at one time 100,000 Greeks lived in Istanbul but most had to abandon the city in dramatic circumstances.
Earlier, the opposition party had been critical of what it believes was a lack of preparation on behalf of the SYRIZA-led coalition ahead of Erdogan’s trip, which was preceded by the Turkish president saying in an interview with Kathimerini that he would like the Lausanne Treaty to be “updated.”
“The interview raises serious concerns and doubts over the preparations that the government and the Foreign Ministry made ahead of the visit,” said New Democracy’s shadow foreign minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos.
Sources at the conservative party said that New Democracy will wait until Erdogan’s visit is over before issuing a more comprehensive comment on the matter. They also pointed out that the main opposition had repeatedly asked Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to brief Parliament’s defense and foreign affairs committee about Erdogan’s visit but these requests were rejected.