Greek minister to meet Turkey’s Bagis in Thessaloniki on Tuesday

Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou is to meet Turkey’s European Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis in Thessaloniki on Tuesday.

The meeting between the two men comes after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated on Saturday that he expects Greece to offer a concession for Ankara approving the reopening of the Halki Seminary near Istanbul.

Erdogan suggested that in return for the seminary being allowed to function again, Greece should agree to the Muslim community in Thrace being allowed to appoint its own religious leader, or mufti, rather than the government in Athens doing so.

“The Turkish government does not appoint the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios in Istanbul,” said Erdogan. “The Greek community chooses its leader. Why, then, should the Greek government decide who should lead the Muslim community in western Thrace?”

Erdogan also suggested that Ankara would be willing to reopen Halki “within a minute” if Athens allowed two Ottoman mosques in Athens to be rebuilt.

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