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Western Thrace Turkish delegation is in Strasbourg11 October 2018

Halit Habip Oğlu, President of ABTTF, and Ozan Ahmetoğlu, President of Xanthi Turkish Union, brought the case of Xanthi Turkish Union which has been waiting for the implementation the ECtHR judgment pending for ten years onto the agenda. 

The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) paid a working visit to Strasbourg in parallel to the 2018 autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The Western Thrace Turkish delegation consisted of Halit Habip Oğlu, President of ABTTF, Ozan Ahmetoğlu, President of the Xanthi Turkish Union (İTB), and Melek Kırmacı Arık, International Affairs Director of ABTTF, had meetings with politicians and bureaucrats in Strasbourg.

As part of the working visit, ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu and İTB President Ozan Ahmetoğlu met with Dimitrios Kalgiros and Nikolas Sitaropoulos from the CoE Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and informed them the application made by Xanthi Turkish Union to the Court of Appeal of Thrace in the period following the adoption of the law 4491/2017 in October 2017 was rejected. Within this context, on 9 October, Habip Oğlu and Ahmetoğlu met with Evangelos Venizelos from the Greek National Delegation in the PACE who has been preparing a report on the execution of ECtHR judgments by the member states of the Council of Europe and demanded from Greece to implement the ECtHR judgments. On 10 October, Halit Habip Oğlu met with Eka Beselia, Chairperson of the PACE Sub-Committee on the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and conveyed the recent developments regarding the case of Xanthi Turkish Union.

The delegation met with Viorel Riceard Badea, Vice-Chairperson of PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination who has drafted the report on “promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities” and informed him about all current problems the Turkish community in Western Thrace face such as the recognition of ethnic Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, the freedom of association, right to education in mother tongue and freedom of religion. In this regard, the delegation particularly drew attention to the Presidential decree which regulates the structure and functioning of Mufti offices, and therefore expressed Greece has taken the autonomous religious structure completely under the state control by violating explicitly the freedom of religion of the Turkish Muslim community. 

Halit Habip Oğlu met with Claudia Lam, Deputy to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and Matthieu Birker, Adviser to the Commissioner, and informed the Office of the Commissioner by conveying the current problems of the Turkish community in Western Thrace.
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