Greek officials have denied a report in the Turkish media that they obstructed a group of around 120 Turks, including Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, from reaching the birthplace of Mustaf Kemal Ataturk in Thessaloniki on time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Turkish leader’s death on Sunday.
According to Turkish newspaper Milliyet, Greek authorities delayed a passport check, which forced members of the group to later demand that their train be stopped at exactly 9.05 a.m., the time of Ataturk’s death, so they could mark the occasion.
Nikos Lazou, a drivers’ representative, said the train was due to arrive in Thessaloniki at 7.19 a.m. but was delayed because the Turkish delegation passed over the Greek-Turkish border with about two hours delay.
Lazou told Skai TV that the delay was caused because the passports of the 120 members of the Turkish delegation had been placed in the same bag and that it took authorities longer than expected to check them.
The drivers’ representative said that the driver and Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) officials agreed without any problems to stop the train on its way to Thessaloniki so the Turkish delegation could hold a minute’s silence in honor of the late Turkish leader.
“We are a welcoming country and we want to respect people’s religion,” said Lazou.