Halit Habip Oğlu: “As the Western Thrace Turks, we were in this region before modern Greece was founded, we are still present today and we are Turks.”
The Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos came on 10 February 2020 to Western Thrace upon the invitation of the Municipality of Maronia-Sapes (Maronya-Şapçı) in the Rhodope province. Pavlopoulos, speaking at a ceremony where he was granted status of honorary countryman by the decision of the municipal council, also referred to the Turkish community in Western Thrace. Pavlopoulos, whose term of office is due to expire next March, indicated the minority living in the Western Thrace region is a religious minority and minority members are Greek Muslims, adding this will never change.
“The Turkish community in Western Thrace was in this region centuries before the establishment of modern Greece. Throughout history, the borders have changed, but today we are still in Western Thrace and we are Turks. The Greek state’s persistent rejection of our ethnic Turkish identity will never change this reality. Our country Greece should get rid of the paranoia of seeing the Turkish community in Western Thrace as a ‘threat’ and ‘danger’ and engage in a direct dialogue with us,” said Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF).