The delegation which consisted of the representatives of Turkish minority of Western Thrace Turks payed a working visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe between 30 September and 2 October. During the working visit, the current issues of the Turkish community in Western Thrace particularly non-implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgements on the associations of Western Thrace Turks by Greece for 11 years were raised.
The delegation of Western Thrace Turks consisted of Halit Habip Oğlu, President of Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), Ozan Ahmetoğlu, President of the Xanthi Turkish Union (İTB), Hülya Emin, President of the Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rhodopi, Dr. Pervin Hayrullah, General Director of the Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority (PEKEM) and Chair of the Human Rights Branch of Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and Melek Kırmacı Arık, International Affairs Director of ABTTF. The delegation had meetings with diplomats and high-level officers in Council of Europe as part of the 2019 Autumn Ordinary Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Within the context of the working visit, the delegation had meetings with Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Fredrik Sundberg, Head of the Department for the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) of the Council of Europe, Goran Beus Richembergh, Chairperson of PACE Sub-Committee on the Rights of Minorities, Sixto Molina, Head of the Secretariat of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Zeynep Usal Kanzler and Camilla Tesenyi from the Secretariat of European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and Agnieszka Szklanna from the Secretariat of PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Moreover, the delegation met with the diplomats from the permanent delegations of six countries to the Council of Europe in a joint meeting. The delegation also had meetings with deputies from Council of Europe member states. Accordingly, the delegation had an opportunity to meet Yorgo Papandreu, former Prime Minister of Greece and Member of Parliament from KINAL.
In the meetings, the delegation of Western Thrace Turks stated that the judgements of ECtHR regarding the Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rhodopi, the Xanthi Turkish Union and Evros Minority Youth Association included in the “Bekir Ousta” group of cases have not been implemented by Greece for 11 years. The delegation provided information about the ongoing legal procedure in Greek domestic courts following the adoption of the law 4491/2017. The delegation asked from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to continue its monitoring process regarding the “Bekir Ousta” group of cases. Furthermore, the delegation raised the current issues in the field of education and religion accordingly explained that Greece has been violating the autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace in education and religion guaranteed by the treaties through regulations and implementation.
Besides, the delegation of Western Thrace Turks provided information about the current issues of the Turkish community in Western Thrace to Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Turkey and PACE Honorary President who visited Strasbourg on the occasion of the celebration of the Council of Europe’s 70th anniversary in a private meeting at the Permanent Delegation of Turkey to the Council of Europe on 1 October 2019.