WT Turkish delegation attends the EU Regional Forum on Minority Issues
The Western Thrace Turkish delegation, consisting of ABTTF and BTAYTD representatives, expressed the problems faced by the Western Thrace Muslim Turkish Minority in the field of justice and law. Representing the Western Thrace Muslim Turkish Minority delegation of Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (BTAYTD) participated to the “30th Annual Hybrid Conference” on 2-3 May 2022.
The Forum was organized by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, the Federal Ministry of the Republic of Austria and the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute.
Deniz Servantie from the Brussels Representation of ABTTF and Kerem Abdurahimoğlu from BTAYTD attended the forum, in which the Federal Union of European Nations (FUEN) is one of the partner organizations.
ASSOC. Dr. ALİ HÜSEYİNOĞLU
On the other hand, Turkiye based Trakya University Balkan Research Institute Deputy Director Assoc. Dr. Ali Hüseyinoğlu participated as a panellist in the second session titled “Implementation: Institutions, Mechanisms, Policies and Programs”.
Academician Hüseyinoğlu, who is a member of the Western Thrace Muslim Turkish Minority, mentioned the importance of having a solid framework for the functional protection of minority rights and explained how the violations of rights and discrimination against national minorities in Europe have increased in recent years.
Referring to the current situation of the Western Thrace Turkish minority, Hüseyinoğlu noted that Greece still has not implemented the decisions taken by the ECtHR on associations related to the Western Thrace Turkish community and that ethnic Turkish identity is still not recognized in Greece.
Reminding that the UN and the Council of Europe are important institutions for reinforcing the rights of national minorities, Hüseyinoğlu said that the active participation of minority representatives in these institutions should be strengthened.
ABTTF: “NOTHİNG HAS CHANGED”
Speaking at the same session, the ABTTF representative stated that nothing has changed positively regarding the discrimination that the Turkish minority in Western Thrace has been subjected to for years. The ABTTF representative reminded that States Parties are responsible for fully implementing the Declaration on the 30th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Minority Rights.
Deniz Servantie from ABTTF Brussels Representation stated that policies regarding the protection of minority rights should be included in all government policies and the international mechanisms that protect minority rights should take action.
Speaking at the same session, BTAYTD representative stated that the current legal process of the Xanthi Turkish Union (ITB) is an extremely important example to measure Greece's commitment to universal values regarding diversity and human rights.
In this context, the representative of BTAYTD stated that the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to return the official status of the association in 2008 has not been implemented by Greece yet.
Reminding that the Greek Supreme Court rejected the association's appeal in June 2021, despite the decision taken by the ECtHR, the BTAYTD representative called for new initiatives to be taken to support the mechanisms that receive international minority rights protection in Greece.
Taking the floor again in the fourth session titled "Going Forward: Reform in the Protection and Implementation of the Minority Rights Framework", the representative of the ABTTF reminded that when the Western Thrace Turkish minority asked the EU Commission through MEPs about national minorities, the Commission was answered that it is not authorized in this area.
He stressed that, in addition to promoting education and awareness programs against prejudices in the majority population, tolerance, dialogue, respect and mutual understanding should be promoted through the media, including the Internet.