ABTTF President: “In our opinion, it is Kefalogiannis himself who misreads and interprets Lausanne. For this, it will be sufficient for the Turkish community in Western Thrace to examine the practices in our region within the framework of the status and rights it had with Lausanne in the period from 1923 to the period of the Colonels’ Junta in 1967”.
Greek MEP Manolis K. Kefalogiannis (EPP-Christian Democrats) submitted a question to the European Commission on the statements of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of motherland Türkiye at the occasion of the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923. In his written question, Kefalogiannis asserted that according to the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne, a ‘‘Muslim minority’’ is defined in Western Thrace, and according to the provisions of the same treaty, a ‘‘Greek National Minority’’ is defined in Istanbul, Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) in Türkiye. Kefalogiannis indicated that Greece has fully complied with the Lausanne provisions and that Greece has fulfilled all its obligations under the treaty towards the Turkish community in Western Thrace.
Earlier, Kefalogiannis had sent a letter to previous and late EP President David Sassoli about the webinar that had been organised on 2 June 2021 on the issue of the freedom of association of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, requesting the cancellation of the event, arguing that the event hosted by MEP François Alfonsi was aimed at challenging the Treaty of Lausanne.
ABTTF, which has a representative office in Brussels, sent a letter to EU circles as regards to the written question of Kefalogiannis and noted that the statements about the Turkish community in Western Thrace in his written question do not reflect the truth. Contrary to the statement made by Kefalogiannis, ABTTF indicated that the Treaty of Lausanne mentions a ‘‘Muslim minority’’ in Greece and ‘‘non-Muslim’’ minorities in Türkiye, and that the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece was defined as a Turkish Minority by the state and representative governments from 1923 until the Colonels’ Junta in 1967.
ABTTF recalled that the bilingual schools belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace within the scope of its educational autonomy in accordance with the definition of ‘‘Turkish Minority’’ adopted and used by the state were called Turkish schools and that those who studied in these schools were given report cards in which Turkish and Greek were written together. Furthermore, ABTTF stated that while democracy was restored in the country with the end of the Colonels’ Junta in 1974, oppressive and discriminatory policies against the Turkish community in Western Thrace continued. Indicating that Greece changed its policy towards the Turkish community in Western Thrace with the Cyprus Crisis between Türkiye and Greece and the subsequent establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, ABTTF highlighted that since then, Greece has started to use the definition of ‘‘Muslim Minority’’ by ignoring the Turkish identity in the country.
ABTTF, which demands from Greece the recognition of the ethnic Turkish identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, indicated in its letter that it further requests the restoration of its educational and religious autonomy, which was actually exercised before the 1967 Colonels’ Junta. In addition, ABTTF demanded that the EP and the European Commission be actively engaged in the situation arising from the lack of a general protection mechanism for the protection of national minorities in Europe and the lack of any concrete steps at national and European level to solve persisting issues.
“The statements made by our country’s MEP Kefalogiannis as regards the status of our community and its current situation in his written question to the European Commission amount to a conscious distortion of the truth. It is Kefalogiannis himself who misreads and interprets Lausanne. As ABTTF, we could not remain silent on this issue, because this is not the truth! For this, in the period from 1923 to the period of the 1967 Colonels’ Junta, it will be sufficient for the Turkish community in Western Thrace to examine the practices in our region within the framework of the status and rights it has with Lausanne’’, said Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF).
Please click below for the full text of the written question of MEP Kefalogiannis: