'Gerapetritis ignores the discrimination and rights violations suffered by the Turkish community in Western Thrace'

Western Thrace
Sat, 9 Mar 2024 9:54 GMT
Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe President Halit Habipoğlu reacted to the statement of Foreign Minister Yorgos Gerapetritis that the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace enjoys all rights.
'Gerapetritis ignores the discrimination and rights violations suffered by the Turkish community in Western Thrace'

Foreign Minister Yorgos Yerapetritis made a special reference to the Turkish community in Western Thrace during his speech at the 55th Ordinary Session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

In his speech, Mr Gerapetritis stated that they have always attached special importance to the Muslim minority in the region of Thrace in the north-eastern part of Greece and claimed that its members benefit both from special protection as a Minority and from all rights as citizens of Greece and the European Union (EU) and that the development of the Minority in terms of population in the last 100 years is the biggest proof of this.

ABTTF President Halit Habipoğlu reacted to these statements of Gerapetritis.

ABTTF President Halit Habipoğlu said: "The statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of our country Gerapetritis, who claims that we benefit from all rights in our country by ignoring the discrimination and violations of rights that the Turkish community in Western Thrace has been subjected to for years, are in no way compatible with the facts. I ask our Minister, who misleads the international public opinion with his words: Why then has our country not yet ratified the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages? Our country, which denies our Turkish identity, systematically violates the rule of law by persistently not implementing the three judgements of the European Court of Human Rights against our associations for 16 years. This situation, which is in no way compatible with democracy and EU values, has been confirmed once again by the recent decision of the European Parliament. Our country, which usurps our educational and religious autonomy guaranteed by treaties through various laws and practices, closes our primary schools with autonomous status in Western Thrace and ignores our demand for bilingual Turkish kindergartens. While we had 226 primary schools in 2003, this number has decreased to 90 in the 2023-2024 academic year. While there are 25 public secondary schools and high schools in Rhodope and 32 public secondary schools and high schools in Xanthi, where we constitute the majority of the population, there is only one Turkish minority secondary school and high school. Again, there is not a single Turkish kindergarten as opposed to 141 kindergartens in the provinces of Rhodope and Xanthi. We ask our country to immediately abandon the perception discourse, which is incompatible with the facts about our community and aimed at misleading the European and international public opinion, and to establish a direct and good faith dialogue with us to solve our problems."

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