Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) participated at the annual meeting of the Education Working Group of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), held on 6-8 May 2019 at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels. At the meeting held in parallel to the first European Regional Forum on Minority Issues organised by Fernand de Varennes, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues with the support of the Tom Lantos Institute on 6-7 May 2019 in Brussels, ABTTF conveyed the problems experienced in education and the work carried out on education throughout the year to the representatives of other FUEN member minority organisations in Europe.
During the first session of the meeting, which was chaired by Olga Martens, FUEN Vice President and attended by Loránt Vincze on the first day, FUEN President, FUEN`s general country reports on educational situation of minorities in Europe were conveyed to the participants and educational projects were introduced under the heading pedagogical approaches on minority language education and teaching minority languages and culture. On the second day of the meeting, FUEN`s recommendations in the field of education to be presented to the European Commission within the framework of the European Citizens` Initiative namely “Minority SafePack Initiative (MSPI)” were conveyed.
Violation of the educational autonomy of the Turkish community of Western Thrace and student protests in the region were brought to the agenda
In the first session of the annual meeting of the FUEN Education Working Group, country reports about the problems faced by some minorities in Europe, including the Turkish community in Western Thrace presented by FUEN which highlighted the wide-ranging control of Greece on minority schools, lack of teachers, materials and primarily the textbooks and the decline in the number of minority schools. Following the presentation of the country reports, Zora Popava from European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI), provided information about the project “Teach-D – Teaching in Diversity”-an Erasmus + Project- under the title of pedagogical approaches on minority language education and teaching minority languages and culture and she also shared with the participants the contents of the online trainings prepared for the teachers about minority education on the website created within the scope of the project. Dr. Adelheid Manz from Institute for National and Foreign Languages in Baja, Hungary, presented the results of the survey conducted among teachers serving at Hungarian state kindergartens within the scope of research project on nationalism at kindergarten level in Hungary.
On the last day of the working group meeting, in the session moderated by FUEN Political Advisor Johan Häggman, European Citizens` Initiative, “Minority SafePack Initiative (MSPI)” which succeeded by FUEN through collecting 1 million signatures and recommendations to promote the linguistic diversity were addressed. Péter Varga, Diplomat responsible for minority issues at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU, made a presentation at the session and gave information on the establishment of a European Centre for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity-one of the recommendations among MSPI- and possible tasks of the centre. ABTTF had the floor in this session and gave information about the protests of the minority schools in Western Thrace and the protests of Medrese-i Hayriye in Komotini organised last year with the demand for renewal of textbooks in minority schools and against the reduction of Turkish lessons.
ABTTF drew attention to the fact that decisions violating the educational autonomy of Turkish community in Western Thrace have been taken by Greece without the approval of the Turkish community in Western Thrace and underlined the importance of the solutions to be presented within the framework of MSPI for the solution of educational problems of the Turkish community in Western Thrace. The meeting ended after the evaluation and presentation of proposals by the participants.