Halit Habip Oğlu: “As the Christians in Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) are of Greek origin according to the Lausanne Treaty, on the other side we are Turks in Western Thrace!”
Antonis Diamataris, Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Diaspora Greeks, described Greece’s support for the Greeks of Bozcaada (Tenedos) as a “sacred duty” during his meeting with the President of the Tenedos Association Christos Kalfas and association’s secretary general Panagiotis Okumas and promised to visit the island soon.
According to the statement of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the president of the association Kalfas informed about the history of Bozcaada (Tenedos) from 1923 to present and conveyed to Deputy Minister Diamataris the main issues being faced by the Christian population of the island, in particular protection of the Greek community on the island as being the most important one among them. The president of the association also asked the Deputy Minister for the assistance of the Greek state in supporting the return of the Greeks to the island who had migrated in the past.
Regarding the issue, Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), said: “We need to analyze the statement of the Deputy Foreign Minister of our country Greece well. Although the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty refers to non-Muslims in Turkey, the Christians living in Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) are of Greek origin. Therefore, the school, which was reopened in 2015 in Gökçeada (Imbros), has the name ‘Greek Minority School’. On the other side, we live in Western Thrace with our Turkish identity, but the Greek authorities deny the existence of a Turkish community in Western Thrace. Our schools in the region are closed one by one every year. As the Christians in Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) are Greeks, on the other side we are Turks in Western Thrace! I hope the new government abandons as soon as possible this policy of denying Turkish identity in Western Thrace and this mistake will be overcome!”