Turks in Greece ‘invisible citizens’ July 24, 2010Posted by Yilan in Thrace, Turkey, Yunanistan.
Tags: Greece, Halit Habipoğlu, Thrace, Turkey
The Turkish minority in Greece is unable to claim the full rights guaranteed by a key historical treaty despite improvements in their living conditions and status, according to an expert dealing with the community.
“Turks are invisible citizens in the social and legal system of Greece,” said Halit Habipoğlu, president of the Federation of the Western Thrace Turkish Minority in Europe.
An unstable citizenship status is one of the most important problems faced by the Turkish minority in Greece, he said, followed by education.
As an officially recognized minority in Greece, the Turkish community is guaranteed educational and religious rights by the Lausanne treaty of 1923, but Habipoğlu said Turks have been unable to enjoy such rights, even after the end of the Greek military junta of from 1967 to 1974.
“Even after the junta regime, the self-autonomous character of the Turkish minority in religion and education could not be established in Greece,” he said. “The problems that the Turkish minority faces today are the results of inaccurate policies of governments, which ignore minority rights and obligations that are warranted by international law.”
Although there have been some positive developments in terms of living conditions and human rights for the minorities living in western Thrace, the head of the Helsinki human-rights monitoring group in Greece said problems remain for Turks in the area.
“The situation is still far from egalitarianism as Greece did not give minorities the right of self-definition,” Panagiotis Demetras said. “It is obvious from the way that the jurisdiction of minority [affairs] falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the Ministry of Internal Affairs, that the Greek state treats its minorities as a foreign body.”
According to Habipoğlu, the lack of a truly self-autonomous education system makes the problem even worse. “The establishment of bilingual kindergartens has caused more problems,” he said. “And the junta-established system of electing the officials [to represent the] Turkish minority has not changed.”
Habipoğlu said the most-debated issue in the region these days is the appointment system for imams in the Turkish community. “The law declared that 240 imams in western Thrace would be hired as public employees through selection by a five-member committee of Christians,” he said.