Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday continued a three-day visit to Greece by commencing a private visit to the northeastern Greek region of Thrace, where the country's Muslim minority resides. Davutoglu arrived in Greece on Tuesday for talks with Greece's leadership and held a press conference in Athens on Wednesday morning, before departing for Thrace.
The Turkish minister arrived in the border city of Alexandroupolis by plane shortly before 1 p.m. and then travelled by car to Komotini to meet representatives of the Greek state but also members of the Muslim minority.
“A thaw has taken place in Greek-Turkish relations,” Davutoglu stressed upon his arrival in Komotini, where he was welcomed by the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace regional governor. The meeting with local authorities lasted roughly 20 minutes.
En route to Komotini from Alexandroupolis, the Turkish foreign minister made a quick stopover at the village of Arriana, where he was received by representatives of the local Muslim minority. Davutoglu underlined the good atmosphere in the Greek-Turkish relations, reiterating that the “minority is a bridge of friendship between the two countries”.
Afterwards, Davutoglu was scheduled to visit Xanthi and the village of Ehinos in the mountains of Rhodopi before heading for the port city of Kavala to stay overnight.
The private leg of Davutoglu's three-day visit to Greece will conclude on Thursday in Thessaloniki, where he is scheduled to visit the Turkish consulate in the northern port city. The consulate is located next to the restored residence -- now a museum -- where the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, was born and raised.
Davutoglu is also scheduled to meet with Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and take a stroll in the seaside city.
He is due back in Turkey late on Thursday afternoon.
Turkish FM in Komotini
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addressed on Wednesday evening members of the Muslim minority at a Komotini hotel, in the region of Thrace.
Davutoglu called on his audience to stay "united" and preserve their "religion and language" while asking them to participate as "Greek citizens in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the entire country and not only of the region."
He also noted that the Muslim minority "is a bridge of friendship between the two peoples", adding that Greek Prime Minitsre George Papandreou and his government have shown positive signs.
Davutoglu is currently on a three-day visit to Greece since Tuesday and on Wednesday began a private visit to the northeastern region of Thrace, where the country's Muslim minority resides.