The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) paid a working visit to Brussels on 16 November 2022. ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu, whom was accompanied by Deniz Servantie from the ABTTF Brussels Office, met with the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) François Alfonsi (Greens/EFA) from the Corsica region of France and Yana Toom (Renew Europe) who belongs to the Russian minority community in Estonia.
Current developments related to the Turkish community in Western Thrace were conveyed
During the meetings held with the parliamentarians that are dealing with minority rights issues under the EP umbrella, the current issues of the Turkish community in Western Thrace along with recent developments in Greece and Western Thrace were discussed.
ABTTF President Habip Oğlu indicated that hate speech towards the Turkish community in Western Thrace has increased gradually in the political and media spheres in Greece and noted that people representing the Turkish community in Western Thrace are targeted in the written and visual medias. Stressing that Xanthi SYRIZA Deputy Hüseyin Zeybek was threatened with death in a live broadcast on a local television channel, Habip Oğlu explained that the ruling New Democracy (ND) Party Deputy and Greek Parliament Second Deputy Speaker Charalampos Athanasiou delivered a scandalous statement in which he had said that the deputies from the Turkish community in Western Thrace could be wiretapped on grounds of national security.
Furthermore, Habip Oğlu noted that the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with respect to the Bekir-Ousta and Others Group of Cases which include associations of the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece such as the Xanthi Turkish Union, the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Prefecture of Rodopi and the Evros Prefecture Minority Youth Association against Greece have not been executed for the past 14 years.
Highlighting that Greece continues to systematically violate the educational and religious autonomy guaranteed by the treaties to the Turkish community in Western Thrace, Habip Oğlu stated that the autonomous bilingual Turkish schools in the Western Thrace region are closed one by one, and that the muftis elected by the Western Thrace Turks are not recognised by the government.
During the meetings, views were also exchanged as regards the 2023 calendar of activities of the EP Intergroup on Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, of which Alfonsi is the co-chair, and on issues of future cooperation.