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Greece sets restrictions to Erdogan’s visit in Thrace

With a small “army” of 200 to 250 bodyguards, security personnel and very trustworthy aides, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to arrive in Athens airport next Thursday.  for a tw0-day official visit on December 7th and 8th.

In his luggage there is a heavy agenda of issues he will discuss with his Greek counterpart President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Migration and the EU Turkey deal, sovereign rights in the Aegean Sea, the Cyprus issue, Security in the broader area and bilateral economic cooperation in big projects.

According to Turkish side one of these projects concerns ferry services to transport passengers and goods from Turkey’s western Izmir province to Thessaloniki. The second one is a high-speed train service project between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, while the third project is a bridge between Greece’s Kipoi and Turkey’s Ipsala border crossings.

Announcing Erdogan’s visit, Greece’s Presidency plainly referred to the agenda saying that the two sides will discuss bilateral and regional issues.

Sources from the Prime Minister’s office told media that in a period of difficulties in the bilateral relations and with crucial issues for the security in the broader area, the dialogue with Turkey is more important than ever.

Athens finally granted the Turkish president diplomatic permission to visit Thrace, home of the Muslim minority in the country. However, the permission was granted with several restrictions to avoid that Ankara takes advantage of the situation and pitches nationalistic crescendos as it happened during the recent visit of deputy prime minister who called the Muslim minority “Turkish citizens.”

Greek television channels reported on Saturday prime time news that Erdogan will do visit Thrace but open gatherings are not allowed as well as the presence of Turkish flags.

Erdogan’s program in Thrace was also the reason the official announcement of the visit was delayed.

It will be the first visit of a Turkish President in Greece after 65 years.

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