ABTTF conveyed current problems of the Turkish community in Western Thrace with regard to the relations between its homeland Greece and motherland Turkey and raised the issue of non-registration of associations with the word “Turkish” in their names despite the judgments of ECtHR
The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) participated at the meeting entitled “10th Anniversay of the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter-State Relations” organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) National Minorities High Commissioner’s Office on 15-16 July 2018, in the province of Udine in Italy. At the meeting where Western Thrace Turkish community was represented by Sinan Kavaz, member of Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (WTMUGA), Melek Kırmacı Arık, ABTTF International Affairs Director, Fatma Ahmetcik, Member of International Affairs and Lobby Group, role and current problems of Western Thrace Turkish community with regard to its relations between its country Greece and motherland Turkey were conveyed.
During the meeting representatives of ABTTF and WTMUGA took the floor and asked questions concerning problems of the national minorities and highlighted importance of multilateral mechanisms in issues concerning national minorities in inter-state relations.
Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations were assessed in its 10th year
Within the scope of the conference organized for the 10th anniversary of Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations Lamberto Zannier, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, hosted a reception. At the meeting on 16 July where High Commissioner Lamberto Zannier, Vinicio Mati, Co-ordinator of the 2018 OSCE Italian Chairmanship, President of the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Pietro Fontanini, Mayor of Udine made opening speeches and Danilo Türk, Former President of Slovenia gave a keynote speech.
At the meeting where OSCE participating states, international organizations and experts convened evaluated the improvements in state relations with kin minorities and addressed the new challenges. Within this framework, effect and importance of bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for resolution of the conflicts regarding national minorities were discussed.
In the session at which state benefits provided to kin communities were discussed, Melek Kırmacı Arık, ABTTF International Affairs Director had the floor and stated that status and rights of Western Thrace Turkish community were defined with the Lausanne Treaty signed between Greece and Turkey and noted status of Turkish community has changed in years depending on the relations of the two countries.
ABTTF indicated that despite the progress in individual rights and freedoms in 1990, a collective definition of Turkish minority has not been recognized and associations with the word “Turkish” in their names were either closed or not registered despite the judgements of the ECtHR in 2008. After adoption of a new law for the implementation of Court’s judgments, ABTTF noted that the ECtHR judgments are not still executed. ABTTF stated although there is a binary cooperation between Turkey and Greece, problems of Western Turkish community are not resolved and noted that leaflets were distributed in the streets during the visit of President Erdoğan in December 2017 with a threatening content and crosses were drawn on the houses belonging to the Turks in the region. ABTTF stated that Greek authorities do not establish a dialogue with the community representatives on the ground that there is no Turkish minority in the region and further noted that there has not been any progress in resolution of the problems of Western Thrace Turkish community in an environment where there is no general protection mechanism for protection of national minorities in Europe. The representative of Greece replied and once again denied the existence of Turkish minority in the region and stated that there is Muslim minority in the region consisted of Turks, Pomaks and Roma. The representative expressed that Greece is loyal to the Lausanne Treaty, she did not touch upon the issue of implementation of ECtHR judgments and did not provide any comment further than saying there is a thriving civil society in Western Thrace.