Athens rebuffs Gul on Thrace

Athens yesterday rejected comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul criticizing Greece’s treatment of the Muslim minority of Thrace and called for bilateral talks on the subject. «Members of the Muslim minority of Thrace are citizens of Greece and Europe who enjoy absolute equality before the law,» Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. He added that Greece was proud of its «European minority policy» and said there was no basis for a discussion. Earlier yesterday, in a speech at Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, Gul had highlighted the issue of the Muslim minority in Thrace as «one of the most significant issues to address with the Greek leadership» and said Ankara was «ready to negotiate with Greece on the minority issue.» «Greece does not recognize the minority’s right to equal education, it creates problems in the management of minority institutions and it does not recognize elected muftis,» Gul said.

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