ABTTF President: “Due to this mentality that disregards the principles of democracy and the rule of law, our associations with the word Turkish in their names are dissolved and new ones are not registered”
European Parliament MEP Manolis K. Kefalogiannis (EPP-Christian Democrats) sent a letter to EP President David Sassoli on 1 June 2021, complaining about the webinar organised by the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) on 2 June 2021 with the support of MEP François Alfonsi (Greens/EFA).
Kefalogiannis said in his letter that the subject of the event was completely defamatory and wrong for Greece, adding that the event referred to a longstanding problem with the claim that European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments are not executed by his country Greece, he added that Greece had fulfilled all its commitments regarding this issue with absolute endeavour.
Noting that the EP appears to be holding an event in partnership with an organisation that undermines and challenges the territorial integrity of a Member State and disregards international treaties, Kefalogiannis claims that according to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, there is in (Western) Thrace a Muslim minority and no Turkish minority.
In his letter, Kefalogiannis claims that Turkish propaganda systematically challenges the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne and uses all means to destabilise (Western) Thrace and increase tensions in bilateral relations, adding that he believes EP members condemn such practices and reject attempts to undermine peace and stability in Europe. Kefalogiannis also expresses confidence in the reasonable responses of EP President David Sassoli and wants to make it clear that this cannot happen under the auspices of the EP.
Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) made the following statement: ‘The unfounded claim and slanderous letter of Manolis K. Kefalogiannis, one of the Members of the European Parliament of our country, against ABTTF proves how distorted the prevailing understanding of democracy in the country is. Indeed, in 2016, MEPS of the Golden Dawn Party wrote to then EP President Martin Schulz ahead of our Brussels event titled ‘Freedom of Association in Greece: A Gap in European Minority Rights Standards’, hosted by MEP Csaba Sógor (EPP), a member of the European People's Party (EPP) Group of which Manolis K. Kefalogiannis is a member, calling for the cancellation of the event, and they later came to the hall where the vent was held and verbally attacked the host MEP. The obstacle to the execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights belonging to Bekir-Ousta and Others group of cases is this mentality that has settled at all levels of state and politics in our country. This mentality, which is immersed in the reality of this claim with the allegation that an open and democratic society has been created in Thrace is the issue in itself. Due to this mentality that disregards the principles of democracy and the rule of law, our associations with the word Turkish in their names are closed and new ones are not allowed to be established. This narrowly stereotyped and conservative mindset, which looks at events through blinkers, will be solved on its own if every of our efforts with respect to the freedom of establishing association will cease to be undermined with the claim that we are sabotaging peace and stability in Europe and by acting in accordance with democracy and the rule of law. However, if the problems related to the rights and freedoms of the Turkish community in Western Thrace continue to be taboo and turned into a national issue in our country that has not reached democratic maturity, it will be our country that ignores its wealth and loses out’.