Batı Trakya


Socio-Political Evaluation of Greece‘s Western Thrace Economy

Where is Western Thrace?


Western Thrace, which is one of the nine geographic regions of Greece, is surrounded by: Evros (Meriç) River and Turkey in the east,  the Nestos (Karasu) River, which is bordered from Macedonia in the west, Rodop mountains and Bulgaria in the north, the Aegean Sea in the south.


-With a 8,578 kilometer square area includes three distinct cities of İskeçe (Xanthi), Gümülcine (Komotini), Dedeağaç (Alexandropolis).

-The population in Western Thrace is about 350,000, and the number of Turks in the region is nearly 150,000.

-The Western Thrace Turkish Minority has never been strong in economic terms.

-Today, Western Thrace is still the poorest and the most backward region in Greece.

-Almost 80% of the households among Western Thrace Turkish Minority, which is depended on the land, are engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry.

-Therefore, the only source of living of the people in the region is the limited land in their hand.

-Until the end of the 1990’s, the trade in the region was maintained by the traders of Athens and Thessalonica.

-The lack of knowledge of the middle age traders in the region about the middle and big scale trade caused them to consider big scale investments as risky.

-The theoretical knowledge and experience of the traders in Western Thrace is passive to a great extent.

-Because the young generation in Western Thrace is trilingual, it can form an intermediary part for the development of trade volume between the two countries.

The Bourgas - Alexandroupolis

Oil Pipeline

The company with the operating and management rights is a Luxembourg-based multinational consortium that will have offices in Greece and Bulgaria. Russia will have a 51% share in the project, more than the other partner countries Greece and Bulgaria (49%).

The Financing of the Pipeline

Under the framework of INTERREG II, EU Commission, between 1994 and 1999, provided 1.9mn Euro for project planning and 2.7mn Euro for all the costs in the project.

The aim is to refuel from the Caspian Sea to the European Union under the guarantee of EU energy.

The proposed amount of investment for Greece will 354mn Euro will be set for Greece and 125mn Euro of this amount will be invested for Alexandroupolis (Dedeagac) region.

The Geostrategic Importance of the Pipeline and its contribution to the preservation of the nature

The Ambo - Pipeline Project will be longer (ca four folds) than the “Burgaz (Bourgas) – Dedeagac (Alexandroupoli) Oil Pipeline” with a seriously higher cost.

However, the Ambo-Pipeline Project is considered necessary and important due to strategic reasons.

290 km pipeline is expected to alleviate the traffic in Bosporus and Dardanelles, thus reducing the risk of accident in Bosporus and Dardanelles.

According to the study of EU-Marine Oil Pollution in 2005, North Aegean Sea and Thrace Sea is under the risk of pollution. It is speculated that the “Bourgas – Alexandroupolis Oil Pipeline” will increase the pollution in the region.

In addition to the risk of sea pollution, ballast water (the sunk water mixed with oil remained after the cleaning of the tanks) also creates serious environmental concerns (ECOCORFU: Environmental Organization).

Agriculture in the EU and Western Thrace

-The annual EU budget is around 90bn Euro and 45bn Euro is reserved for “EU Common Agriculture Policy”, the amount which is equal to the 54% of the EU budget.

-The protectionist attitude of the EU towards farmers is not only against the rules of the World Trade Organization, however the aim of this policy is to maintain price stability and prevent fluctuations in food prices. in EU countries, UK and the US while this share rises to 2.5% in Germany.

-In a healthy economy the shares of population that are engaged in economy, industry, services and agriculture should not exceed 20%, 75% and 5%, respectively.

-More than 80% of the Western Thrace economy is based on agriculture, and more than 80% of this amount depends on the tobacco production.

-75% of the economic activities is run by Greek majority whereas 25% is by the Turkish Minority and such unfair distribution of economic activities seems to be the main reason behind the current underdevelopment of Western Thrace.

Distribution of economic support to East Macedonia – Western Thrace

Per Capita GDP in East Macedonia – Western Thrace (2002 - 2004)


EU average: 100%

Recommendations FOR

Strengthening the Economy in Western Thrace

-The economy should be re-structured to effect a positive improvement in the economy in Western Thrace.

-The only way to protect the Western Thrace farmers from the manipulation of traders is to organize them.

-The hidden unemployment in agriculture should be diminished.

-Development of economic and trade relations between the Turkish minorities in Greek Western Thrace and South Bulgaria under the framework of “EU INTERREG III” programs.

-There needs to provide investment in Western Thrace with economic organizations and to establish contact with financial and incentive institutions.

-The share of the nationalist capital will shrink if the liberal capital achieves to get embedded with the economy that will increase the share of minorities in the national economy, especially in the services sector.

The Change

in the Regional Prosperity Index in the EU

The reasons behind the unfair distribution of EU funds and the limited participation of the Minority members could be represented in 2 factors:

1. Socio-economic marginalization

-The socio-economic marginalization means direct economic discrimination toward the institutions or individuals due to ethnic and religious differences.

-We should mention one point that the responsibility of such unfair distribution of the funds belongs mainly to the local authorities and the civil servants.

2. Concrete features of the Muslim Turkish community

-The socio-cultural reasons are mainly related to the some concrete characteristic features of the Minority members such as abstention from demanding the funds from the public institutions in the region.

-The main reason behind that passivism is the long-lasting suppression policy on the Turkish Minority, leading to social fear and sociological complexes.

Comparison: EU’s regio GDP - GR regio GDP

2004 EU, Countries and Regions GDP (m Euro) GDP per Capita(€) GDP Purchasing Power (Euro) GDP per Capita Purchasing Power (Euro) Ratio of GDP per Capita Purchasing Power to EU-2
EU-27 10.529.351 21.503 10.529.351 21.503 100
Greece 168.417 15.222 201.864 18.245 84,8
East Macedonia-Western  Thrace 6.174 10.173 7.400 12.193 56,7
Western Macedonia 3.313 11.248 3.971 13.482 62,7
Middle  Macedonia 23.372 12.231 28.014 14.660 68,2

Economy General OUTLOOK: GREECE

Economy (US $) 2000 2005 2006
GNP (BSP) 125,8 Billion 220.3 Billion 222.0 Billion
GDP (BIP) 114.6 Billion 225.2 Billion 226.0 Billion
Purchasing Power Parity 11.530.0 19.840,0 19.800
Growth 4,5 3,7 3,5
Inflation 3,4 3,7 3,8
Share of Agriculture in GDP (%) 7,3 5,2 5,2
Share of Industry in GDP (%) 21,4 20,8 20,5
Share of Services in GDP (%) 71,3 74,0 74,1
Share of Export in GDP (%) 25,0 20,8 20,5
Share of Import in GDP (%) 35,9 28,0 28,0
Share of Investment in GDP (%) 23,4 23,8 23,8
Share of Government Revenues in GDP (%) 45,6 41,7 41,7
Budget Deficit (Budget Surplus) -4,1 -5,1 -5,1
Share of Trade in GDP (%) 39,5 31,5 31,3

(Un-) Employment

Employment in Total Labour Force Unemployment Rate
Cities 1991 (%) 1996(%) 2001 (%) 1991 (% 1996(%) 2001 (%)
Athens 57.9 61.2 64.4 8.6 9.0 9.4
Thessaloniki 53.2 55.7 8.3 9.6
Petra 53.2 55.1 11.1 13.4
Iraklion 56.9 59.8 7.4 9.0
Larisa 54.8 56.7 8.6 9.6
Volos 53.6 55.9 9.9 10.9
Yanya 51.2 54.5 12.8 12.9
Kavala 54.0 56.4 10.3 11.1
Kalamata 57.7 58.2 9.4 10.8
Komotini (52.0) (54.0) (54.0) (13.0) (13.5) (14.0)
Xanthi (10.9) (11.3) (12.0)

Gross Share of the Provinces

in Western Thrace in Greece’s GDP

(Million Euro) 2000 2002 2004 2000 2002 2004 2000 2004 2004
Dedeagac | Alexandropolis 185 175 174 383 357 451 943 1.062 1.230
İskece | Xanthi 108 95 112 307 381 431 513 581 699
Gümülcine | Komotini 158 149 151 246 306 306 519 594 698
Drama 102 122 115 176 160 188 563 625 730
Florina 84 97 94 143 143 187 291 305 373