Erdogan touches on everything from Jerusalem, to migrant crisis to Lausanne Treaty in wide-ranging press con'f

Thursday, 07 December 2017 17:45
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Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan readily answered various questions dealing with bilateral and international issues on Thursday in Athens, with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at his side, during a joint press conference and following talks between the two.

Erdogan, who now completely dominates Turkey's intricate and volatile political scene, touched on issues ranging from a controversial US decision a day earlier regarding Jerusalem to the extradition of alleged coup conspirators who have sought asylum in Greece.

Highlights included:

- "Only the US speaks of Jerusalem as the capital (of Israel)." He promised to bring up the matter at an Islamic States' summit in early 2018, where he will preside.

- His reminded that Turkey hosts three million Mideast refugees and that is has allocated 30 billion USD from its budget, as he claimed, for this crisis, "the EU gives us 850 million euros through the Red Crescent; the EU has not given what it promised."

- Differences in the Aegean "are difficult but can be solved", he said, adding that discussions should not constantly focus on past mistakes.

- He blamed the Greek Cypriot side for withdrawing from unification talks on two occasions, while reiterating that Ankara wants a fair and viable solution.

- Repeated that there are "issues" with the Muslim minority in western Thrace that should be resolved.

- Pressed for a revision of the landmark 1923 Lausanne Treaty, in the most prominent manner ever uttered by a Turkish leader, saying he broached the issue in the past with several Greek premiers. "We do not desire any other country's territory. In Turkey there has not been a problem with work on churches and monasteries."

- Discussion, as he said, on the issue of extraditing "coup conspirators". "They (alleged conspirators) can be returned to Turkey, a country that has abolished the death penalty, where no torture (in custody) takes place; I believe the Greek judiciary will listen to this request."

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