The problems in the field of education faced by the Western Thrace Turks were addressed at the forum where the right to education for minorities is discussed.
As representatives of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (WTMUGA) attended the 12th Session of the United Nations (UN) Forum on Minority Issues organised on 28-29 November 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. Delegation of Western Thrace Turks consisted of K. Engin Soyyılmaz, ABTTF Head Office Manager, Meltem Giritli, pedagogue and Executive Committee Member of WTMUGA, İlker Çavuşoğlu, Advisor on International Law and Human Rights at WTMUGA attended the forum organised on the theme "Education, Language and the Human Rights of Minorities". Prof. Mustafa Kaymakçı, President of Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association (ROİSDER) attended the forum on behalf of Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks.
Delegation of Western Thrace Turks raised the issue of bilingual minority preschools and teacher, curriculum and textbooks problem at minority primary schools
WTMUGA took the floor at the second session entitled “human rights and minority language education” and addressed in detail the problems and violations on the right to education of the Turkish community in Western Thrace. WTMUGA called on Greek government to respect the right to education of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and to fulfil its responsibilities derived from international and bilateral agreements. Moreover, WTMUGA demanded from Greek authorities to launch a constructive and inclusive dialogue with the Turkish community in Western Thrace for the solutions of their problems in education.
ABTTF took the floor at the third session entitled “public policy objectives for education in, and the teaching of, minority languages” and said that the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne rendered the Turkish community in Western Thrace autonomous in the field of education accordingly the community was granted to the right to establish and manage their schools together with the right to education in mother tongue. ABTTF highlighted that the autonomy in education of the Turkish community in Western Thrace has been systematically violated by Greece. In addition, ABTTF expressed that autonomous primary schools were shut down on the grounds of the low number of students and the establishment of bilingual minority preschools is systematically not permitted by the Greek authorities. ABTTF stated that Greek state pursues unilateral and imposing education policies and called upon Greek authorities to find solutions for the problems in dialogue with the Turkish community in Western Thrace.
Representative of Greece took the floor at the session and repeated the official opinion of Greek state by saying that there is only Muslim minority in Western Thrace. The representative claimed that Greece would continue its efforts to improve the education for the Turkish community in Western Thrace in line with the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne.