ABTTF President: “Kefalogiannis claims that there is a Muslim minority in Thrace, while Istanbul, Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) have Greek national minorities according to Lausanne. Kefalogiannis cannot not have known that the Treaty of Lausanne contains the phrase ‘non-Muslim minorities’. If he says that the minority in Istanbul is a Greek minority, he should say that we, who are living in Western Thrace are also a Turkish minority.”
Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Manolis. K Kefalogiannis (EPP-Christian Democrats), submitted a written question on 26 July 2022 to the European Commission on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Kefalogiannis asserted that Greece has fully fulfilled its commitments to protect the Turkish community in Western Thrace under the expression of Muslim minority in Thrace by complying with the provisions of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and claimed that Türkiye has eliminated the Greek Orthodox community under the expression of Greek national minority and did not protect its rights.
In his written question, Kefalogiannis stated that according to the provisions of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, 110,000 Muslims remained in Greece outside the scope of exchange and since then it has been defined as a Muslim minority, while in Türkiye, 125,000 Greeks in Istanbul and 6,000 Greeks in Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) have been known as a Greek national minority.
Noting that the Turkish President and Turkish officials continue to refer to a so-called Turkish minority in Western Thrace, he asked the European Commission how the Commission assesses ‘‘the unacceptable new statements of the President of Türkiye, who talks about the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, which is in a revisionist approach and questioning Greek sovereignty in the Aegean islands’’ and what measures the Commission has taken in that respect.
In a letter sent to President of the European Parliament David Sassoli on 1 June 2021, Kefalogiannis complained about a webinar organised by the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) with the support of MEP François Alfonsi (Greens/EFA) on 2 June 2021, citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, he claimed that there is a Muslim minority, not a Turkish minority, in (Western) Thrace, and he further alleged that Turkish propaganda systematically challenged the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne, using all means to destabilise Western Thrace and increase tensions in bilateral relations.
“Kefalogiannis continues to read the Treaty of Lausanne in a biased way, ignoring the ethnic Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, whose status and rights are defined by Lausanne. Kefalogiannis claims that there is a Muslim minority in Thrace, while Istanbul, Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) have Greek national minorities according to Lausanne. Kefalogiannis cannot not have known that the Treaty of Lausanne contains the phrase ‘non-Muslim minorities’. If he says that the minority in Istanbul is a Greek minority, he should say that we, who are living in Western Thrace are also a Turkish minority. As a matter of fact, the word ‘‘Turkish’’ is clearly written in the Etabli Documents given to those who were out of the exchange of the populations. In the period following the signing of Lausanne, the state itself used the definition of ‘‘Turkish minority’’. The signs of our schools were in Turkish and Greek, and the name of our schools were Turkish schools. Our children’s diplomas were also bilingual in Turkish and Greek. However, with the establishment of a Turkish state in Cyprus after the Cyprus crisis, we started to be labelled as a ‘‘Muslim’’ minority, not a ‘‘Turkish’’ one overnight. Our associations which bear the word ‘‘Turkish’’ in their names were shut down, and our ethnic Turkish identity was not recognised after that day. The question that Kefalogiannis presented to the European Commission reflects the state policy that claims that there are no Turks in Greece after 1983! But the facts are clear!”, said Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF).