ABTTF President: “We are calling out to Mitsotakis, the prime minister of our country: Real equality will be achieved by the state with the restoration of our educational and religious autonomy as one of the two peoples living in the region! Just as we made use of our citizenship rights on 29 January 1988, as a result of our patience in the face of injustice and oppression in the past, today we will take to the streets again if necessary for the restoration of our educational and religious autonomy!”
Our country Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Western Thrace on 13-14 January 2023. Mitsotakis, who came to Xanthi on Friday, 13 January as part of his visit, indicated that he came to present his development vision for (Western) Thrace in his short speech in the city square and that he was happy to start the general election work from (Western) Thrace.
Mitsotakis, who moved to Komotini following his contacts in Xanthi, first spoke at the promotion of the ‘‘Eastern Macedonia and Thrace 2030’’ programme. Mitsotakis stated that all the opportunities have been mobilised for the development of the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and noted that due to the strategic location of the region, infrastructure works will be given importance, and that there are important projects to develop port, highway and train transportation in the region.
Mitsotakis spoke at the event organised by the New Democracy Party (NDP) at the Music Palace in Komotini on Friday, 13 January. Noting that Konstantinos Mitsotakis was the first person to declare equality before the law in (Western) Thrace, Prime Minister Mitsotakis further explained that they are proud to have achieved a peaceful life together with the Muslim minority and in the region. Mitsotakis said that they are proud to have achieved a peaceful life together in (Western) Thrace and that this may be the subject of research for many European countries and claimed that the Muslim minority lives in harmony under the identity of Greek and European citizens.
The last stop of the trip of Mitsotakis was Alexandroupoli. Mitsotakis announced at the press conference held in Alexandroupoli on Saturday, 14 January that one of the three places he will stand for candidacy in the general elections will be Alexandroupoli (Prefecture of Evros).
“During his two-day visit to Western Thrace, Prime Minister Mitsotakis again denied the existence of the Turkish community in the region, ignoring the issues of our community, the systematic discrimination, and violations of rights it has been faced with for years! We took to the streets on 29 January 1988, and only after that, as Mitsotakis said, a policy of equality before the law was implemented by his father in Western Thrace and we were able to get our citizenship rights back. We are calling out to Mitsotakis, the prime minister of our country: Real equality will be achieved by the state with the restoration of our educational and religious autonomy as one of the two peoples living in the region! If necessary, we will take to the streets again for the restoration of our educational and religious autonomy! As a community that is loyal to our country and believes in democracy, we are fighting for rights. The ‘‘peaceful life together’’ in Western Thrace which Mitsotakis mentioned was achieved as a result of the patience of our community, it is not the success of our country as he claims! Unfortunately, our prime minister is only saying what he wants to hear about our community, not the facts! On the other hand, I expected the prime minister of our country to give hope to the future by making more concrete statements for the development of Western Thrace and the employment of the people living in the region. Indeed, wasn’t the non-partisan Commission for the Development of Thrace established precisely just for this aim on his own proposal? I hope the investments and projects to be made in the region include the prefectures of Rodopi and Xanthi!’’, said Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF).