ABTTF: Our country continues to distort the facts
ABTTF President: “A systematic discriminatory policy is being implemented against us in our country. Is this the development of the ‘‘Muslim minority in Thrace’’? Whatever the language it is said in, the facts are clear!”
At the conference organised by National and Kapodistrian University and the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou used the words such as ‘‘Muslim’’ to describe the minority in Western Thrace and ‘‘Greek Orthodox Christian’’ for the minority in Istanbul, Gökçeada and Bozcaada whose status and rights are defined by the Treaty of Lausanne.
In her speech, in which she indicated that the Treaty of Lausanne clearly defines the framework for the protection of the rights of both minorities, the President said that the ‘‘Muslim minority in Thrace’’ is developing, but that the ‘‘Greek minority in Türkiye’’ is constantly decreasing.
“In her speech at the conference, our President uses a language that is misleading and distorts the facts. Indeed, according to the Treaty of Lausanne, if our minority is a ‘‘Muslim minority’’, the Orthodox Greek minority in Türkiye is also a ‘‘non-Muslim minority’’.
However, while using the term Muslim for us, using the term Greek minority for the minority in Türkiye, the existence of the Turkish community in Western Thrace is again denied. In addition, this discourse is in contradiction with the one that we have developed as a minority community and it does not reflect the truth.
It is true that we have a larger population compared to the Greek minority in Türkiye, but this does not mean that we are in a better position than the minority in Türkiye in terms of rights and freedoms. Indeed, in Gökçeada Private Greek Kindergarten and Primary School, which was opened with only 4 students in 2013, 21 students are studying today.
Today, 46 students are studying at Gökçeada Private Greek Secondary and High School, which was opened in 2015. On the other hand, although we, as the Turkish community in Western Thrace, have the right to establish and manage our own schools within the framework of Lausanne, the number of our primary schools is decreasing day by day, because the state has closed all schools with less than 9 students since 2010, citing economic measures.
The number of primary schools, which was 188 in 2011, has dropped to 99 today. Our schools, which used to be called Turkish schools, are now known as Minority Schools. Why? Because our country does not recognise our Turkish identity!
Our associations bearing the word ‘‘Turkish’’ in their names are closed down. In 2008, the Court ruled that our country violated the freedom of association in three of our associations that went to the European Court of Human Rights.
But our country has not executed the court judgments for the past 15 years.
Our experiences after the 21 May elections also revealed the aggressive and targeted approach towards us.
The number of votes received by a Turkish deputy candidate in Rodopi, where we make up the majority of the population, raised hell.
Whatever the language it is said in, the facts are clear!”