Denying the ethnic identity of Turkish Minority in Western Thrace
One of the most common problems the minority is facing is the denial of the ethnic identity.
The main justification is that the Treaty of Lausanne refers to a religious minority but not an ethnic. However, being a religious minority does not prevent society to be identified ethnically. For example, according to the population exchange in 1923 made between Turkey and Greece, it is clear that the to minorities (of Greece and Turkey) were defined as Greeks and Turks. Another point is that the minorities are given établis document, which refers to their ethnical identities.
When we look back to the 50s we can obviously see that the minority was identified as Turk by the Greek State. Hence, it was so common to see schools written ‘Turkish School’ on their boards.
After the coup between 1967-74, the minority has faced some transformations, especially with their ethnical identity. That was the time when the state first started to define the minority with their religious identity and deny their ethnical identity. As stated before that it was common to see schools with titles written ‘Turkish School’ on them, it was also banned to use the adjective ‘Turk or Turkish’ on the boards, not only on the schools but also on the associations and other institutions.
The minority brought the cases before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The ECtHR passed three judgments that bannings of using adjectives ‘Turkish or Turk’ in their titles are discriminatory. As a result, the state was sentenced to pay compensation to the institutions however there is no compensation received yet.
To sum up, The Greek state keeps its attitude on denying the Turkish identity and the institutions titled with the adjective ‘Turk or Turkish’ despite the sentence of the ECtHR and the warnings of Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.