News World Tsipras visits Hagia Sophia on trip to boost Turkey ties

Tsipras visits Hagia Sophia on trip to boost Turkey ties

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paid a symbolic visit to Istanbul’s former cathedral Hagia Sophia on Wednesday on a trip aimed at improving ties with Turkey, long strained by disputes over territory, energy exploration and Cyprus.

Tsipras met Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday, where the Turkish president said he expected more cooperation from Athens in the repatriation of eight soldiers who fled to Greece following an attempted coup in 2016.

Tsipras told their joint news conference that Greece does not welcome putschists, but that the case of the eight soldiers was a matter for the judiciary.

He said both countries had agreed to de-escalate tensions in the Aegean Sea and proceed with confidence building measures. Differences with Turkey “can and must be solved with dialogue,” he added.

Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin accompanied Tsipras on his tour of Hagia Sophia, which was the foremost cathedral in Christendom for 900 years and one of Islam’s greatest mosques for another 500 years. It has been a museum since 1935.

Tsipras will later visit an island near Istanbul to attend mass at the Orthodox Halki theological school, a centre of scholarship until it was closed by the Turkish state in 1971. Turkey’s refusal to reopen it is another bone of contention.

He will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of Orthodox Christians worldwide, and representatives of the Greek community in Istanbul.

Another source of tensions between the Aegean neighbours is the divided island of Cyprus, split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. U.N.-led peace talks between the Greek and Turkish sides collapsed in 2017.

NATO members Greece and Turkey were nearly drawn into a military clash as recently as 1996 over an uninhabited Aegean islet.

On Tuesday, Turkey updated a list of former military officers wanted for their alleged role in the 2016 failed putsch to include the eight officers granted asylum in Greece, and offered a bounty of 4 million Turkish lira ($770,446) for each of them.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry announces chartered flight to bring Cypriots back from Lebanon

Cyprus' Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is planning to charter a flight on Thursday for the immediate return of Cypriot citizens and...

Cyprus’ President expresses condolences to Lebanon and readiness to provide assistance

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades has expressed his deep condolences to the government and people of Lebanon and the islands readiness to provide any...

Police carry out 1,162 coronavirus restrictions checks

Police have carried out a total of 1,162 checks over the past 24 hours on premises throughout Cyprus to ensure compliance with government decrees...

Heavy fines, hunting bans for bird trappers in British bases

More than €10,000 in court fines have been issued to illegal bird trappers in sovereign bases’ area in the past few weeks. Alongside a...

Conflicting scientific views on extend of covid-19 spread in Cyprus

There are conflicting views by members of the scientific team advising the Cyprus government on the novel covid-19 virus and the extend of its...

Taste

Octopus ‘Kathisto’ (or Octopus braised in Wine)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped fine 1 large octopus, about 2kg (cleaned and kept whole) 3/4 cup dry red wine 1/3 cup...

Homemade lemonade

Ingredients: 1 cup lemon juice 1 cup sugar Method: Thoroughly wash the lemons with soap and warm water. Roll each lemon with the palm of your hand, pressing...

‘Striftaria’ mini cheese pies

Ingredients 1 ½ cup milk 2 tbsps. flour 4 tsps. of butter 3 eggs, slightly beaten + 1 extra with 1 tbs. of milk for spreading 1 pack of...

Mini potato canapes baked on salt

Ingredients Serves: 12 1kg small Cypriot potatoes rock salt, as needed 250g salted butter 300ml full fat cremé frâiche 1 pot cod or salmon roe Method Prep:20min › Cook:35min › Ready in:55min Take...