Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) participated at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organized on 10-21 September 2018 in Warsaw, capital of Poland, by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Office for Democratic Organizations and Human Rights Office (ODIHR).
Aykut Garipoğlu, representative from ABTTF Brussels Office and BTAYTD members Pervin Hayrullah and Associate Professor Ali Hüseyinoğlu participated at the meeting where Turkish Community in Western Thrace was represented by Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (BTAYTD). At the meeting in Warsaw, ABTTF and BTAYTD articulated the discriminative policies against Turkish community in Western Thrace, asked Greece to provide a solution for their problems and presented their demands.
ABTTF had the floor on 13 September during the session on tolerance and non-discrimination and stated, the ethnic Turkish identity of Western Thrace Turkish community is not recognized and indicated discriminative policies in the fields of education and religion. ABTTF expressed that 240 Imam Law aims to increase the state control over Western Thrace Turks through religion and informed about the problems in education, primarily the lack of bilingual kindergartens.
ABTTF had the say on the same day in the afternoon session and remarked that the right of Western Thrace Turks to select their own religious leaders guaranteed by the international agreements have been usurped by the state. ABTTF stated that they oppose the draft Presidential decree envisaging restructuring of Mufti Offices given that appointed Mufti Offices have completely been possessed by the state through the decree.
On 14 September, ABTTF had the floor during the session on tolerance and non-discrimination and stated that closing or not allowing for new establishment of the associations whose names include the word “Turkish” is a violation of freedom of association and ABTTF informed about the judgements of European Court of Human Rights in this matter. ABTTF also conveyed information about the rejection of re-application to domestic law of Xanthi Turkish Union by Thrace Court of Appeal following the adoption of the law with allegation of paving the way for the implementation of the judgements of the ECtHR.
Pervin Hayrullah and Ali Hüseyinoğlu, representatives of BTAYTD provided information about the problems experienced in the fields of recognition of ethnic identity of the Turkish community in Western Thrace, Mufti Offices and foundations, education and hatred crimes. Greece enjoying its right to answer in all sessions, firstly, denied the existence of Western Thrace Turkish minority and expressed that the state only recognizes the existence of “Muslim minority in Thrace”. Related to the case of Xanthi Turkish Union, Greece indicated that the judgement of Thrace Court of Appeal has not yet been brought to the Supreme Court. And regarding the Mufti question, Greece indicated that the law adopted in January is in line with international conventions and claimed that religious rights of the Turkish community in Western Thrace have been strengthened with the new law. Greece repeated its official state thesis and denied the criticisms made by ABTTF and BTAYTD in their statements.