Athens urges caution after Turk PM’s Thrace comment

The Greek Foreign Ministry advised caution on Tuesday as it reacted to comments made on Monday by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (photo) regarding Thrace.

“Thrace is Thessaloniki but at the same time it is Komotini and Xanthi,” he said during a speech delivered as party of the campaign for next year’s local elections.

“It is also Kardzhali and the Vardar River. Going further back, it is Skopje, Pristina and Sarajevo.”

Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras suggested such historically sensitive subjects need to be approached more carefully.

“Historical and geographical references – particularly in a region as intensely historically charged as the Balkans – must always be made with great care,” he said.

“Today, the sole criterion is compliance with international law and, thus, the rules governing good-neighborly relations, which are based on respect for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region. For Greece – which could obviously make a great many historical references – this is a fundamental, self-evident and inviolable stance.”

Thrace, once a single region under Ottoman rule, was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey early in the 20th century.

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