Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs of Greece obligated that ceremonies in national festivals, 25 March, 28 October and 17 November, in Turkish minority schools will only be celebrated in Greek language. According to this decision, using of Turkish language in ceremonies in Turkish Minority schools in national festivals of Greece has been prohibited. According to news written in Gundem news-paper which is published in Western Thrace, Directorate General of Foreign and Minority Schools of Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs of Greece obligated that ceremonies in national festivals, 25 March, 28 October and 17 November, in Turkish minority schools will only be celebrated in Greek language, with a mandat signed by Angelos Sirigos, General Directorate. Ministry made out non-usage of Turkish poems and literature in national festivals to prohibition of Turkish language in ceremo-nies in national festivals in minority schools.
Turks in Greece are excluded from national and social life purposely
Turkish Minority of Western Thrace made response to decision of the Ministry. Decision caused an an-noyance among members of Turkish Minority of Western Thrace and it has been described as a step to exclude Turks in Greece from social life. Turkish Minority authorities in Western Thrace specified that there had not been such an implementation in Minority schools before and they emphasized that the de-cision was a step to prohibit Turkish language in Western Thrace.
Also, Halit Habipoglu, the President of Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), re-acted against decision and criticized Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs. Habipoglu explained that the decision was clearly a discrimination and a deliberate prohibition on usage of Minor-ity’s native language and he invited the Ministry to bring about that mandat. Habipoglu said “Turks in Greece are exluded from national and social life purposely. This decision is an example for that exclu-sion. Freedom on usage of Turkish language in Turkish Minority schools has also been put under guarantee by Treaty of Lausanne. Our children in our minority schools celebrate our country, Greece’s national festivals, too. Because they are nationals of Greece and they consider themselves as a compo-nent of Greece. But, it is understood that authorities in Greece do not see them as a component of Greece. There can not be any rational reason for a prohibition on usage of Turkish language in ceremo-nies in national festivals in Turkish Minority schools. I invite the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs to bring about that mandate immediately”.
Habipoglu also indicated that Minister of National Education and Religious Affairs was also a deputy of Rhodope, where Turks mostly live in Greece, and was a Western Thracian and they could not under-stand that how such irrational decisions were taken during his Ministry period. Habipoglu also said “Min-ister of Education, Mr. Stilianidis is a politician who have lived together with Turkish Minorty in Rhodope region and have fit remark minority problems in the region. Although he is a near friend of our former deputy, Ilhan Ahmet and near with Turkish Minority for years, taking such decisions of his Minis-try is so bothersome. Besides, it should not be forgotten that the Minister of Education, Mr. Stilianidis is elected as deputy and minister by Turkish electorates’ votes. Because, as it is known, he had lost ap-proximately 5000 votes in the last elections in Rodopis Prefecture in comparison with 2003 elections, however, he had been elected again as deputy by Turkish electorates’ votes in the region. If it is looked from this aspect, decisions taken against Turkish Minority of Western Thrace by his ministry are so nega-tive”.
Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs has not responded Minority’s objection and it has not been commented if the Ministry would bring about the mandat, or not, yet.