The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) paid a working visit to Berlin, the capital of Germany, on 23 November 2022. ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu, accompanied by ABTTF Head Office Manager K. Engin Soyyılmaz, met with German Bundestag deputies Filiz Polat (Alliance 90/The Greens) and Boris Mijatović (Alliance 90/The Greens) during the working visit.
Hate speech targeting the Turkish community in Western Thrace and current issues were conveyed
At the meeting, hate speech and attacks targeting the Turkish community in Western Thrace in Greece and the discrimination and rights violations suffered by the Western Thrace Turks were expressed.
ABTTF President Habip Oğlu underlined that the educational and religious autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, which was left to Greece with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, was guaranteed, and noted that Greece liquidated the educational and religious autonomy of the Turkish community with various laws and practices over the years contrary to its obligations arising from international treaties.
Habip Oğlu indicated that Greece, which denies the ‘‘Turkish’’ identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and claims that it is not ‘‘Turkish’’ within its borders, has not executed the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as regards the associations of the Turkish community, namely the Xanthi Turkish Union, the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Prefecture of Rodopi and the Evros Prefecture Minority Youth Association, for more than 14 years, despite all the warnings of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
Habip Oğlu stated that the Turkish community in Western Thrace is seen and shown as an ‘‘enemy within the country’’ and a ‘‘threat’’ in politics and media in Greece, and that as the result of this negative perception based on prejudice, hate speech and attacks targeting the Turkish community have increased especially in the recent period. Furthermore, Habip Oğlu cited examples of Xanthi SYRIZA Deputy Hüseyin Zeybek being threatened with death during a live broadcast on a local television channel and a Turkish teenager in Xanthi being insulted and physically assaulted as a ‘‘Dirty Turk’’ as an illustration of these attacks.
Habip Oğlu noted that Greece, as an old member of the European Union (EU), must be persuaded to be a country that is truly compatible with the EU’s core values and principles and fully respects the rule of law.