ATHENS, Greece – Greece is rolling out the red carpet for a visit this week by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hoping to improve often-frosty ties between the two neighbors and NATO allies at a time when Turkey's relations are being tested with both the European Union and the United States.
Security in Athens will be tight for Erdogan's arrival on Thursday, when he will meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the country's largely ceremonial president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, before heading to northeastern Greece the next day to speak with members of the country's Muslim minority. Greek authorities on Wednesday announced a ban on demonstrations in central Athens during Erdogan's stay.
"It's a visit of exceptionally great significance and importance," Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said, adding the government was looking forward to "exceptionally constructive discussions." It will be Erdogan's first visit to Greece as Turkish president, although he has visited twice before as prime minister.