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Athens, Newspapers Riled over Turkish Prime Minister’s ‘Minority’ Statement October 4, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses, Thrace, Trakya, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Greek newspapers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of provocation after Erdoğan referred to the Turks in western Thrace as the “Turkish minority,” daily Milliyet reported today.

Erdoğan sent a congratulatory message to the Fraternity, Equality and Peace Party (DEP) in Greece to mark the 21st anniversary of the party, which was founded by members of the minority community there.

“Our kin in western Thrace has always had a special place in our hearts,” Erdoğan said in his message. “That is why it is very important that our kin exercises their rights, which have been guaranteed by international agreements, to their full extent.”

“We will always stand by the Turkish minority in western Thrace, as we have done up to this day,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish prime minister also expressed his hope that the minority in western Thrace and the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey would serve as “a bridge of friendship” between the two countries.

The Greek Foreign Ministry responded to Erdoğan’s message saying there was no such thing as a “Turkish minority” in the international agreements to which Erdoğan referred in his message.

Greek newspaper Demokratia carried the story with the headline “Erdoğan provokes” and said, “Erdoğan has shown his true colors once again. He calls Greek Muslims Turks and tries to appear as their benefactor.”

Etnos newspaper said, “Erdoğan’s government is very interested in creating a minority issue in Thrace, and they are very good at it.”

Official Greek numbers say around 49,000 ethnic Turks live in Thrace, while western Thrace culture and education associations put the number at around 150,000.

Athens, Newspapers Riled over Turkish Prime Minister’s ‘Minority’ Statement September 7, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Thrace, Trakya, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Greek newspapers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of provocation after Erdoğan referred to the Turks in western Thrace as the “Turkish minority,” daily Milliyet reported today.Erdoğan sent a congratulatory message to the Fraternity, Equality and Peace Party (DEP) in Greece to mark the 21st anniversary of the party, which was founded by members of the minority community there.

“Our kin in western Thrace has always had a special place in our hearts,” Erdoğan said in his message. “That is why it is very important that our kin exercises their rights, which have been guaranteed by international agreements, to their full extent.”

“We will always stand by the Turkish minority in western Thrace, as we have done up to this day,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish prime minister also expressed his hope that the minority in western Thrace and the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey would serve as “a bridge of friendship” between the two countries.

The Greek Foreign Ministry responded to Erdoğan’s message saying there was no such thing as a “Turkish minority” in the international agreements to which Erdoğan referred in his message.

Greek newspaper Demokratia carried the story with the headline “Erdoğan provokes” and said, “Erdoğan has shown his true colors once again. He calls Greek Muslims Turks and tries to appear as their benefactor.”

Etnos newspaper said, “Erdoğan’s government is very interested in creating a minority issue in Thrace, and they are very good at it.”

Official Greek numbers say around 49,000 ethnic Turks live in Thrace, while western Thrace culture and education associations put the number at around 150,000.

Efforts of Western-Thrace Turks in Thessaloniki remain unsuccessful, mosque pledge not kept September 6, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Thrace, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Halit Habipoğlu: Why is the approval of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs needed for a request that comes from the Greek citizens?

The Greek Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to the request of Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris with regard to the opening of the New Mosque in Thessaloniki during the holly month Ramadan, which has been closed for worship since 1924.

According the to the news of daily Hürriyet, Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, applied to the Greek Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports for the opening for worship on special days of the New Mosque whose right of use the Thessaloniki Municipality possesses as from 2012. However, the Mayor of Thessaloniki stated for the opening for worship of the New Mosque, not only the approval Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports but also of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is needed.

On the other hand, the Western-Thrace Turks living in Thessaloniki request for the opening for worship during the Ramadan feast of the Alaca Imaret Mosque which is in the best physical state among the mosques in Thessaloniki. Speaking to the daily Gündem, Ferit İsmailoğlu, member of the Executive Board of the Macedonia-Thrace Muslims Education and Culture Association, noted during the meeting they had with Yannis Boutaris three months ago, the Mayor promised to provide the Alaca Imaret Mosque for worship during the Ramadan feast.

“It is not understandable that the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul has the saying in satisfying the regarding demand expressed for a long time by the Muslims who are all Greek citizens. Today, the confusion on this issue is the result of the exclusionary attitude adopted by the Greek Government towards the request that comes from the members of the minority although they are its own citizens.” said Halit Habipoğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe

Turks in Greece ‘invisible citizens’ July 24, 2010

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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.