"Secretary General of Religious Affairs Kalantzis distorts the facts"

Western Thrace
Thu, 7 Dec 2023 9:58 GMT
In the statement made by ABTTF, it was stated that Kalantzis' statements on Xanthi Minority Secondary School and High School distorted the facts.
"Secretary General of Religious Affairs Kalantzis distorts the facts"

Yorgos Kalantzis, Secretary General for Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports, made statements on 1 December 2023 in Thraki newspaper about the Xanthi Minority Secondary School and High School belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace.

Kalantzis stated that the Committee of the Xanthi Minority Secondary School and High School Council had sent an open letter to the President and the Prime Minister regarding the building issue of the school and noted that Greece is a democratic country and that protest knows no boundaries as long as the laws are not broken. Kalancis noted that securing the rights of minorities is a very important issue for Greece and argued that the Greek minority in Istanbul has been eroding over the years compared to the developing Muslim minority in (Western) Thrace.

Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), said: "Yorgos Kalantzis, Secretary General of Religious Affairs, continues to make untrue claims by distorting the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne. As he knows, the Treaty of Lausanne uses the term 'non-Muslim' minorities for the minorities in our motherland Türkiye, not the Greek minority. Kalantzis constantly compares the population of the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul, Gökçeada and Bozcaada with the population of the Turkish community in Western Thrace. Then I would like to remind him the following: The kindergarten and primary school of the Greek Orthodox minority in Gökçeada, which opened with only 5 children, today has 21 children, while in Istanbul private kindergartens belonging to the Greek Orthodox minority have been operating for decades. On the other hand, although we constitute 55 per cent of the population in Rhodope, 45 per cent in Xanthi and 10 per cent in Evros, the authorities do not allow the establishment of bilingual Turkish minority kindergartens in Western Thrace. Although we have educational autonomy according to the Treaty of Lausanne, our primary schools with autonomous status are closed down one by one every year under the pretext of economic reasons and lack of students. While there were 188 Turkish primary schools in Western Thrace in 2008, this number has decreased to 90 in 2023. Our demand is clear and unambiguous: We demand the immediate return of our educational autonomy, which was implemented until 1974. It is natural for our country to have demands and expectations from our motherland regarding the Greek Orthodox minority. On the other hand, we expect our country to approach the problems of our community, which is under its responsibility, with sincerity and to protect their rights. Only then will our country be convincing that the protection of the rights of minorities is an important issue for it."

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