ABTTF President: ‘We wish the Court of Cassation to take decisions that are in conformity with ECtHR case law and international human rights law. Indeed, states parties to the European Convention on Human Rights are obliged to act in accordance with ECtHR judgments and ECtHR case law’.
Xanthi Turkish Union’s recourse for the return of its official legal entity following the adoption of the Law no.4491/2017 had been rejected by the Court of Appeals of Thrace on 22 June 2018, and its appeal to the Court of Cassation was heard in Athens today.
As parties to the case, Xanthi Turkish Union (ITB) and the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Region presented their case files to the supreme court. The Federation of Thrace Associations involved in the case as the third party presented the file to the court and it is expected that the decision of the Court will be announced within three months.
Xanthi Turkish Union, founded in 1927 as the first association of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, was closed in 1986 by lowering its sign in 1983 due to the word ‘Turkish’ in its title. Xanthi Turkish Union applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and the ECtHR ruled in 2008 that Greece violated its right to freedom of assembly and association.
After ECtHR judgments the ITB applied to domestic courts with a request for the implementation of the European Court’s judgment, but its application was rejected on grounds that domestic law does not allow to the implementation of ECtHR decisions.
Law 4491/2017 which would allow Greek national courts to implement the ECtHR’s judgments in cases against Greece concerning associations belonging to national minorities was adopted with restrictions for newly established associations on ‘national security’, ‘public safety’ and ‘freedom of third parties’, as well as the conditions for ‘not threatening state security’ and ‘violations of international agreements.
Following the adoption of the Law 4491/2017, the ITB applied again to the Thrace Court of Appeal for the re-opening of domestic proceedings, but its requests before the Thrace Court was rejected again on grounds that the Law 4491/2017 does not include cases which were already heard before by the domestic courts after the ECtHR judgments.
Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) made the following statement: “As the Turkish community in Western Thrace, we have been waiting for the implementation of ECtHR judgments for the past 12 years. We request the return of the official legal entity of Xanthi Turkish Union, which has been waging a legal struggle for the past 37 years. Our country alleges that our Minority is Muslim by referring to the Treaty of Lausanne. However, associations bearing the name “Pomak” and “Roma” are registered, but associations having ‘Turkish’ in their names were dissolved and newly established associations are not registered. We wish the Court of Cassation to take decisions that are in conformity with ECtHR case law and international human rights law. Indeed, states parties to the European Convention on Human Rights are obliged to act in accordance with ECtHR judgments and ECtHR case law. Our country must take a concrete step to end the denial of the existence of the ethnic Turkish minority which had started by dissolving our associations bearing the word ‘Turkish’ in its name in 1983”.