Turkey's Greece-born Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu visited Athens on Thursday ahead of a historic trip by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying good neighborly relations would be the result for both countries.
"As a [Turkish] minister born in Greece, we will take advantage of this to make an effort to improve neighborhood relations between the countries," Çavuşoğlu told Anadolu Agency (AA) in Athens.
Çavuşoğlu was born in 1972 in Deilina, a village near the city of Komotini (Gümülcine in Turkish), where many of his relatives remain. He became one of Turkey's deputy prime ministers in a major cabinet reshuffle in July. Çavuşoğlu's news was greeted warmly by fellow politicians in the city of Komotini in northern Greece when he was chosen as a minister. He will also meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens before going to his native town on Friday. The Turkish president is scheduled to visit Athens before the end of this year, Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said last week.
Erdoğan's trip is seen as historic as it will be the first time in 65 years that a Turkish president will visit Greece. The last such engagement was in 1952 by then-Turkish President Celal Bayar.
The Western Thrace region of Greece is home to around 145,000 locals of Turkish origin.