At the study visit, the judgements of ECtHR and ongoing legal process on Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rodopi and other Western Thrace Turkish Associations were brought to the agenda
The Western Thrace Turkish delegation under the leadership of Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), in parallel to the 2019 Winter Ordinary General Session of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE), made a visit to Strasbourg on 22-23 January 2019. The Western Thrace Turkish delegation composed of Halit Habip Oğlu, President of ABTTF, Hülya Emin, President of Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rodopi, Dr. Pervin Hayrullah, General Director of Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority (BAKEŞ) and Head of Human Rights Department of Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and Melek Kırmacı Arık, ABTTF International Relations Director held meetings with politicians, diplomats and eurocrats in Strasbourg.
On 22nd of January Tuesday, Western Thrace Turkish delegation had a meeting with Birger Gjelsten Veum, Deputy to the Permanent Representative of Norwegian Delegation to the Council of Europe, Viorel Riceard Badea, Vice-Chair of PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination who drafted the report “promoting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities” and, George Stafford, Director of the European Implementation Network (EIN), a civil society organization advocating for fully and efficiently implementation of the judgements of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR by the Council of Europe member states, Boriana Aberg, Chairperson of PACE Swedish National Delegation and Mustafa Yeneroğlu, member of PACE Turkish delegation and AK Party İstanbul MP. The Western Thrace Turkish delegation continued its interventions at PACE on 23rd of January, Wednesday and had meetings with Fredrik Sundberg, Head of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and Nikolaos Sitaroplulos, lawyer from the aforementioned department, Matthieu Birker, Advisor of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneieve Mayer, Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Hohn Darcy from the Secretariat and Frank Schwabe, Deputy Chairperson of PACE German National Delegation.
During the meetings Halit Habip Oğlu, President of ABTTF and Hülya Emin, President of Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rodopi, emphasized that the judgements of ECtHR related to Western Thrace Turkish minority associations known to be “Bekir Ousta group cases” have not been implemented for 10 years and provided information about the ongoing legal process at Greek national courts. Habip Oğlu and Emin denoted that the judgements of ECtHR related to Xanthi Turkish Union-closed on the grounds of restrictions brought with the law number 4491/2017 and adopted in October 2017 at the Greek Parliament- and Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Rodopi and Evros Minority Youth Association-unregistered due to the same law-have been made impossible to be implemented and asked the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to continue supervising Greece closely for the cases of “Bekir Ousta group”.
At the meetings, the delegation also conveyed the current problems that the Turkish community in Western Thrace experiences in the fields of education and religion accordingly expressed that through several laws and implementations, Greece explicitly violates the educational and religious autonomy of the Turkish community in Western Thrace guaranteed by the international and bilateral treaties. Prior to the voting on the report “promoting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities” and related resolution at the PACE General Assembly, the Western Thrace Turkish delegation in its meeting with the rapporteur Badea, explained the opinions and comments of the Turkish community in Western Thrace regarding the chapter on Greece of the report.