Turkish deputy foreign minister visits Thessaloniki and Western Thrace
Yavuz Selim Kiran tours birthplace of Turkish Republic founder Ataturk, Ottoman mosques, also meets with Turkish community
A senior Turkish diplomat on Wednesday visited Thessaloniki, a multiethnic Greek city with deep significance for both Ottoman and Turkish history.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran was met at the city’s airport by Turkey's Ambassador to Athens Burak Ozugergin and Efe Ceylan, the Turkish consul general to the city.
In the city, Kiran visited the historic house of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was born here in 1881 before going on to become the founder of modern Turkey, as well as a number of Ottoman-era mosques.
Kiran also met with representatives of the Turkish community and religious officials in Thessaloniki.
Kiran will also visit the Western Thrace region to meet the elected muftis (Islamic officials) of the cities of Komotini and Xanthi and mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Western Thrace region is home to a Muslim Turkish community of around 150,000, and Turkey has protested Greece refusing to recognize the community’s elected muftis, in favor of muftis appointed by Athens.
The election of muftis was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens between Greece and the Ottoman Empire and was confirmed in 1920. But in 1991, Greece annulled this law and started appointing the muftis itself.
Kiran will also meet with members of the Western Thrace Turkish minority and visit minority schools and Ottoman-era monuments.