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It makes no sense unless Tsipras says ‘Western Thrace Turkish Minority’10 February 2019

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras assessed the relations between two countries to the AA reporter before his visit to Turkey on February 5-6. When looking carefully to the statements related to the minority made by Tsipras both to AA and during his contacts in Turkey, confused again the minds.

“We should create a relationship that will be beneficial both to our people and region” and “My relation with Erdoğan is based on respect, sincerity, and outspokenness,” said Tsipras, but his sincerity about the minority has been a moot point.

In general point, statements made by Tsipras before his visit to Turkey may seem to be positive and sincere, but when reading carefully the words about the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace do not seem to be so sincere.

In his speech about the minorities he preferred calling the Non-Muslim Minority linked to the Greek Patriarchy as “Orthodox Greek Minority”, while about the Muslim Turkish Minority of Western Thrace as “Muslim Minority”. In my opinion, as far as I can see it is also our Minority’s general opinion, Tsipras denied consciously the ethnic “Turkish” identity and said “Muslim Minority” in accordance with the state policy.

Tsipras, in his every talk pointing that there have been big steps for improving the situation of the Minority, said: ”We have made important reforms intended for the Muslim minority and will keep making other reforms”. Of course, we cannot help stop thinking about how Tsipras is sincere when saying all these. Because, if he is really sincere, he would have stopped denying the Turkish identity as a state. It cannot be said that he avoids the reactions of the racists and opposite in Greece. Because there is a midcourse. In order not to receive any negative reaction, he could have decided to say only “The Minority in Western Thrace”. But he exclusively did not do this and preferred saying “Muslim Minority” and as a matter, of course, he upset the Minority.

Additionally, Tsipras stated that “Two countries are informing each other about the progress concerning the minorities in the context of the Lausanne Treaty”. Reforms about the “Muslim Minority” in the country, is an undertaking of Greece to its citizens and it is not an issue between two countries. “In this framework, we have taken big steps so far on applying the Sharia Law, the structure and function of the muftis, and education. We will keep going in this way as well”.

In the one hand, Tsipras said that in the context of the Lausanne Treaty, two countries inform each other about the minorities in order to set up good relations with Turkey, while in the other hand he said that it is not a mutual issue with Turkey. This attitude was perceived as contradictory and insincere by the public opinion of the minority.

Since the minorities are not a mutual case, so why he says that two countries inform each other about the case of the minorities? It is obvious that Tsipras has an inconsistent and contradictory attitude. He tries to be fair, while he is unfair, however it makes him more unfair.

His tellings as reforms and positive developments about the muftis have nothing to do with the facts. He is not since about this topic as well. Because the applications regarding this topic are interventions to the religious belief and hit against the institutions. Our religious freedom is trampled. There have been made reforms without any consultation with the minority. Employing the muftis and foundation administrations with an election, the establishment of the head-mufti institution and Theology School is still not on the agenda of Greece. Ignoring all these facts, Tsipras claims that they have made great reforms. That is double-dealing. Tsipras lies in front of us and is kidding us.

It is known that denying the Turkish identity of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace is a strict state policy. However, Tsipras’s pointings on the solution before coming to power, caused a total disappointment in Western Thrace, as he became spokesman of the traditional state policy.

Tsipras’s attitude on ignoring the problems and demands of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace is assessed as the reflection of a contradictory and ambivalent policy by the public opinion of the Western Thrace.  

The most important and solution expected problem is the case of denying the Turkish identity by the state. It is a well-known fact by the knowledgeable about the problems in Western Thrace, without solving the Ethnical Identity Problem there will be no solution and serenity in Western Thrace. Because every problem lies on the basis of denying the ethnic identity.

So, if Tsipras, as the Prime Minister of Greece desires a sincere solution, firstly he should recognize not only the religious but also the ethnic identity. Otherwise, the discussions will not bring any solution. The unhappy and anxious status of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace is the outcome of the continued denying policies.

Cengiz Ömer | Journalist  Translated by Salih Canbaz
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