ABTTF President Halit Habipoğlu: As an NGO having been conducting political lobbying in the international arena for many years, we broke new ground, and brought a delegation to investigate the problems of the Turkish minority to Western Thrace
The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) organized from 16 to 20 October 2012 a fact-finding visit to Western Thrace, Greece to investigate the problems of the Turkish minority on-site, which was accompanied by MEP François Alfonsi, Co-Chair of the “Intergroup Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages” at the European Parliament, Hans Heinrich Hansen, President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities and Willy Fautré, Director of the Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l. During the visit attended by ABTTF President Halit Habipoğlu, ABTTF Director General K. Engin Soyyılmaz and Member of the Department of International Affairs of ABTTF, Seyhan Sarıca, and organized in partnership with the Political Party of Friendship, Equality, Peace (DEB), the delegation met with the representative organizations of the Turkish minority.
Visit to the Macedonia-Thrace Muslims Education and Culture Association in Thessaloniki
On 16 October 2012, FUEN President Hansen and HRWF Int’l Director Fautré visited the Macedonia-Thrace Muslims Education and Culture Association in Thessaloniki. During the visit, the Chairman of the Association, Osman İsmailoğlu stated in Thessaloniki, there are two mosques remained from the Ottoman Empire, though their request as association for re-opening one of the mosques for Friday prays and on religious feast days was dismissed by the Greek authorities.
Delegation meets with the representative organizations of the Turkish minority in Komotini
The delegation accompanied by the ABTTF representatives visited on 17 October 2012 the Office of the Elected Mufti of Komotini, the Komotini Turkish Youth Union, the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Headquarter of the Political Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace (DEB). The vice mayors of Komotini, Rıdvan Molla İsa ve Mehmet Devecioğlu conveyed to the delagation during the lunch the adversities brought by the electoral threshold of 3% which also applies to the independent candidates. In the evening, the delegation met with the representatives of the Turkish minority media at dinner.
On 18 October 2012, the delegation met with İsmet Kadı, Mayor of Iasmos (Yassıköy) and President of the Consultative Committee of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace, Cemil Kabza, Cahirman of the Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority (CEFOM) and CEFOM Director General Pervin Hayrullah. On the same day, the delagation ate lunch with the Elected Mufti of Komotini, İbrahim Şerif, and met also with the Chairman of the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union, Sami Toraman and İbrahim Şerif, Mayor of Ariana (Kozlukebir) and Vice-President of the Consultative Committee of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace.
Turkish minority mothers living in the village of Echinos (Şahin) conveyed to the delegation the problem of bilingual pre-school education
On 19 October 2012, the delegation departed for Xanthi, and met there with Ahmet Mete, Elected Mufti of Xanthi, Ahmet Kara, Chairman of the Xanthi Turkish Union and Mustafa Çukal, Mayor of Myki (Mustafçova) and Vice-President of the Consultative Committee of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace. Lastly, the delegation visited the Turkish minoriy village of Echinos (Şahin), met there with those 20 children together with their parents, who were not enrolled in the Echinos (Şahin) Turkish Minority Primary School on the grounds that they had not attended a public kindergarten, and got information on the problem of enrollment in the kindergarten.
“As an NGO having been conducting political lobbying in the international arena for many years, we broke new ground. During the four-day-fact-finding visit organizdy in partnership with the Political Party of DEB, the delegation investigated the problems of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace in Greece, and is going to share later on the report on the visit with all the concerning persons and authorities. In this way, attention will be drawn to the problems of the Turkish minority in Europe.” said Halit Habipoğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF).