Batı Trakya

ABTTF’s programme entitled “Facts about Our Country” focused on the 39-year legal struggle of the Xanthi Turkish Union


The second programme of the online programme series entitled “Facts about our Country” organised on the Zoom platform by the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) was realised on 13 January 2022. 

The second guest of the programme, which was broadcast live simultaneously on ABTTF’s YouTube channel and Facebook page was Ozan Ahmetoğlu, President of the Xanthi Turkish Union (XTU), the first and oldest association of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, which had been founded in 1927 but was closed due to the word “Turkish” in its name. Ahmetoğlu answered the questions posed by ABTTF International Affairs Director Melek Kırmacı Arık as regards XTU’s 39-year legal battle. 

Ahmetoğlu noted that in 1983, due to the word “Turkish” in the signboards of the Komotini Turkish Youth Union and the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers’ Union, their signboards were taken down together with that of XTU, and that as a result, the 39-year legal battle of XTU began.

In response to the question of why justice is so blind in Greece, which has not executed the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as regards XTU for nearly 14 years, Ahmetoğlu indicated that the main issue is the failure of Greece to recognise the Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and that the execution of the  ECtHR judgment on it would equal to the recognition of the Turkish identity in the country.

Moreover, Ahmetoğlu stated that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has repeatedly and strongly warned Greece as regards the execution of the ECtHR judgments regarding the Bekir Ousta and Others Group of Cases which includes XTU, the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Rodopi Province and the Evros Prefecture Minority Youth Association, but that Greece has persistently ignored these warnings and further noted that the House of Macedonian Civilization had won a case at the ECtHR insofar as it had been ruled that Greece had violated the freedom of association but that also that particular judgment has still not been executed. Ahmetoğlu stressed that the Committee of Ministers should take an even tougher stance against Greece from this point on because the issue stems from the distorted democracy in Greece, not the sole execution of the ECtHR judgments and further indicated that as XTU, they had asked the Committee of Ministers to initiate the infringement procedure against Greece.

Finally, in response to the question of how politics, media and public opinion view the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece and the XTU case in this context, Ahmetoğlu said that the Greek state generally follows a policy of disregard against the Turkish community in Western Thrace, and moreover he noted that as a result of this policy of disregard, the attitude towards the Turkish community in the region was developed based on the argument that there are no Turks in Western Thrace in both the media and politics. Ahmetoğlu noted that as citizens of Greece and the European Union (EU), the Turkish community in Western Thrace desires what is good for its own country and that they have no other demand than to live in a country where the rights and freedoms are respected.

Simultaneously, you can watch the recording of the programme, which is also broadcast live on ABTTF’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, by clicking on the links below in English and Turkish:

YouTube Turkish recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-fmj1tXhXM&t=38s

YouTube English recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5ilmEaIWt4&t=2s

Facebook Turkish recording: https://www.facebook.com/939989616164959/videos/3131992687056977

Facebook English recording: https://www.facebook.com/939989616164959/videos/513147203240532