A petition regarding the lack of bilingual minority kindergartens in Western Thrace to provide education in Turkish and Greek (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/petitions/en/petition/content/0058%252F2019/html/Petition-No-0058%252F2019-by-Ozan-Ahmeto%25C4%259Flu-%2528Greek%2529-on-teaching-Turkish-in-pre-school-education-to-children-belonging-to-the-Turkish-community-in-Western-Thrace) which had been submitted by President of the Xanthi Turkish Union (XTU) Ozan Ahmetoğlu in 2019 as a pupil’s parent and with the initiatives and support of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) within the realm of the European Parliament (EP) was discussed at the European Parliament (EP) Committee on Petitions (PETI) on 10 January 2022.
As the petitioner, Ozan Ahmetoğlu attended the Committee’s meeting on 10 January online and realised a presentation on the content of the petition titled “Teaching Turkish in pre-school education to children belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace.”
Ahmetoğlu stated that his child, who was 5 years old in 2019, had to go to the state kindergarten, where only Greek is taught, when he submitted the petition due to the necessity of pre-school education in Greece under Law No. 3518/2006 and he further noted that all Turkish children in the region are required to attend public kindergartens because Turkish schools belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace are not allowed to provide pre-school education in their native Turkish language. Ahmetoğlu said that the failure of the Greek authorities to respond positively to the request for kindergartens which would give education in Turkish and Greek just as in the primary schools of the Turkish community in Western Thrace caused serious issues for the Turkish children and their parents.
Noting that his child would learn the language of his country Greek in an easier fashion if he first was learning his mother tongue Turkish, Ahmetoğlu stressed that the Greek authorities do not provide children from the Turkish community in Western Thrace this possibility as regards pre-school education.
Noting that the Turkish community in Western Thrace enjoys autonomous status in education in accordance with the provisions of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne has the right to open all kinds of schools and use its own mother tongue, Ahmetoğlu further indicated that Turkey’s Greek Orthodox minority, whose status and rights are determined in the same way as the Turkish community in Western Thrace has kindergartens where their mother tongue Greek is taught within the framework of their own school systems.
Moreover, Ahmetoğlu stated that the requests of the education company operating in Western Thrace to open a private bilingual kindergarten in Turkish and Greek have been left unanswered by the Greek authorities insofar as the children from the Turkish community in Western Thrace can learn their native language Turkish and provided education in their mother tongue, adding that Turkish children have no choice but to go to state kindergartens where only an education in Greek is provided.
Ahmetoğlu underlined that all the children belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace should not be deprived of the right to learn in their native language Turkish and provided education in their mother tongue, and further requested from his country Greece to establish kindergartens where Turkish children will have education in both Turkish and Greek in accordance with the status of educational autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and within the framework of the minority school system and furthermore demanded for the authorisation to open bilingual special kindergartens in Western Thrace.
Following the presentation of Ahmetoğlu, PETI Vice-Chair Tatjana Ždanoka (Greens/EFA, Latvia) and PETI Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Loránt Vincze (EPP-ED, Romania, President of FUEN - Federal Union of European Nationalities) and Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, Denmark) supported the petition, recommending for it to remain open.
It was decided at the meeting for the petition submitted by Ahmetoğlu to remain open and be forwarded to the EP Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) for it to express an opinion on the petition.