Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who has aviaphobia and rarely travels abroad, began a six-day overland tour of the Balkans on Wednesday, making his first stop in Greece.
Bahçeli’s itinerary includes visits to Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bulgaria during the tour scheduled for June 27-July 2. During the visit the MHP leader will meet with citizens of these countries. Marginal and ultranationalist websites and groups posted insulting and threatening messages targeting Bahçeli’s Wednesday and Thursday meetings in Western Thrace. The extremists’ reaction is fueled by Greek nationalism, which has remained influential due to the Turkish-Greek dispute over Cyprus.
On the day that word of the MHP leader’s tour of the Balkan countries appeared on news websites, Bahçeli arrived in the province of Edirne to cross the border overland to the Greek town of Didymóteicho, which served as a capital of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 10 years. Didymóteicho is located in the eastern part of the Evros regional unit of Thrace.
Bahçeli, however, will first visit the village of Büyük Derbent, a place that hosts the largest Muslim Turk minority in the Greek province of Evros. Running the news of Bahçeli’s itinerary on their websites, members of the extreme right in Greece called on their ranks to come together in Büyük Derbent to protest his visit. Articles published online by fanatical groups include serious threats and insults, with statements such as “Gray Wolves Leader -- Isaak’s killer is in Thrace today courtesy of the Greek state!”, “A lot of blood will flow in Thrace!”