14 February, 2007
Commenting on Ankara's latest musings to commence oil exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday stated that there are international treaties and rules that are binding for all countries, Turkey included.
Referring to Cyprus, he stressed that the international community recognises only one state on the island, namely, the Republic of Cyprus.
The spokesman also dismissed complaints by the Turkish foreign ministry claiming "inadequate recognition" of the rights of the Muslim minority in the north-eastern Greek province of Thrace, which Ankara continues to refer to as 'Turkish'.
The Turkish foreign ministry was commenting on the announcement last week of a package of measures to resolve outstanding issues faced by the minority -- especially the accumulated debts of its religious foundations -- by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, during her tour of the province.
According to the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, the steps Greece has undertaken to implement "would mean an end to measures discriminating against the minority".
Antonaros stressed that the Muslim minority, the only recognized minority in Greece, enjoys full equality before the law and the State like all Greek citizens.
Athens views the minority -- which also includes a small community with its own Slavic-based language known as Pomaks -- as a strictly religious group rather than an ethnic group, on the basis of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty.
Finally, in a related development, Antonaros said that no date has been set for the Turkish foreign minister's visit to Greece.
Source: Athens News Agency