The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) paid a working visit to the capital of the European Union (EU) Brussels on 15 September 2022.
ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu, accompanied by Deniz Servantie from the ABTTF Brussels Office, met with European Free Alliance (EFA) President Lorena López de Lacalle as part of the working visit. EFA Political Advisor Paul Butcher was also present at the meeting held at the ABTTF Brussels Office in Brussels.
Current issues of the Turkish community in Western Thrace were discussed
During the meeting held in the European Parliament (EP) with the EFA delegation which is in the same political group together with the Greens, the current issues of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and the current developments in Greece and the Western Thrace region were conveyed.
ABTTF President Habip Oğlu noted that Greece has persistently failed to execute the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with respect to the associations of the Turkish community in Western Thrace for the past 14 years, despite all the warnings emanating from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Noting that the Court of Cassation (Areios Pagos) rejected the appeals of the banned Xanthi Turkish Union as well as those from the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Prefecture of Rodopi and the Evros Prefecture Minority Youth Association, which were not registered, Habip Oğlu indicated that Greece once again disregarded the ECtHR judgments and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it is a party.
Stating that systematic violations of the educational and religious autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace guaranteed by treaties is continuing, Habip Oğlu said that four more bilingual Turkish primary schools in Western Thrace were closed in the 2022-2023 school year, and that the new law under the title of ‘‘Modernisation of Mufti Offices’’ adopted by the parliament in July 2022 aimed to establish full control and supervision over the muftis that have an autonomous structure.
Furthermore, Habip Oğlu underlined that the Turkish community in Western Thrace is portrayed as a ‘‘threat’’ and a ‘‘danger’’ to national security in politics and media in Greece and that hate speech in politics in particular is a part of structural and systematic discrimination against the Turkish community, and that deputies and representatives of the Turkish community in Western Thrace are directly targeted, notably as with the wiretapping scandal and the election of the new mufti in Xanthi.
At the meeting, where the 3% election threshold which is also applied upon the independent candidates in the elections in Greece and the economic issues of the Turkish community in Western Thrace were discussed, opinions were exchanged on further possibilities as regards future cooperation between the parties.