ABTTF President: “The closure of our Turkish primary schools under the pretext of austerity measures and lesser number of students at schools has become a tool of the systematic discrimination by our own country against the Turkish community in Western Thrace”
The Greek Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs decided to close eight additional Turkish primary schools belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace on grounds of insufficient number of students in the 2020-2021 academic year. According to Gündem, Turkish primary schools in Uysallı(İsalo), Bekirköy(Velkio), Menetler(Skaloma) and Kozlardere(Linos) villages in Rhodope(Rodop), İnhanlı(Evlalo) and Höyükköy (Velochori) Turkish primary schools in Xanthi(İskeçe) and Babalar(Goniko) and Taşağıl(Petrolofos) Turkish primary schools in Evros(Meriç) province are closed. Thus, the total number of Turkish primary schools will drop to 115 this year from 123 with the closure of five Turkish primary schools in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe(ABTTF) made the following statement: “The Turkish community in Western Thrace has been granted autonomy in education with the Treaty of Lausanne and has its own primary schools in which bilingual education is provided in Turkish and Greek. Although the Turkish primary schools we own are autonomous, the government, as part of the austerity measures taken in 2010, has suspended the activities of our schools temporarily under the pretext of lesser number of students. In fact, our primary schools, which are stated to be suspended temporarily in terms of compliance with the law, are practically closed. Although we had 194 primary schools in 2008, this number decreases to 115 this year. This practice has become a tool of systematic discrimination against the Turkish community in Western Thrace. In our schools, where there is state intervention in violation of the Lausanne Treaty, our children’s right to education is being violated. As the Turkish community in Western Thrace, we will not remain silent against this systematic discrimination that directly affects the future of our children, and we will work to eliminate this unfair and discriminatory practice both in Greece and at the international level.