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24 August, 1998
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday charged Turkey's foreign ministry with willfully distorting statements he made about Greece's Moslem minority in Thrace.
A statement released by Parliament's press office cited a Turkish foreign ministry announcement as incorrectly quoting Mr. Kaklamanis as saying that the Moslem minority "should assimilate into the Greek community and its Hellenisation is definitely required".
A Parliament statement stressed that Mr. Kaklamanis had not urged "Hellenisation" of the Moslem minority, and had not referred to the group as "Turkish", as the Turkish foreign ministry alleged.
"The Moslem minority in Thrace is comprised of Greek citizens, despite the fact that Turkey has struggled to give it a 'ghetto image' and present it as an ethnic minority," the statement read.
"The Parliament president has repeatedly and clearly underlined the need for the homogenisation of the area's population, so that all Greeks, both Christians and Moslems, can follow the same path towards growth," it adds.
Mr. Kaklamanis had repeated this position in an interview, which the Turkish foreign ministry had willfully tried to distort, the statement continued.
The distortion by the foreign ministry and Turkish press was deliberate, as shown by the fact that the Turkish embassy in Athens had requested - and received - a copy of Mr. Kaklamanis' exact statements before release of the announcement in Ankara.
It also rejected Turkey's claim that Mr. Kaklamanis should "make an effort to get to know Turkey better."
The statement said the response was probably linked to Mr. Kaklamanis' original statement that:
"The Greek people have always wanted peace and good relations with neighbouring Turkey. I imagine that the Turkish people, who are currently living amid the trials and tribulations of a semi-military regime, would also like peaceful and friendly relatio ns with the Greek people."
Finally, the statement said that Mr. Kaklamanis was fully informed about the political situation in Turkey, and was concerned about the human rights of ethnic minorities, including the Kurds, "who were living under asphyxiating pressure from the country 's semi-military regime."
He was also concerned at the violation of international law due to the continuing military occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus, the statement concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency