Turks in Greece oppose court ruling again denying their rights

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The Turkish minority living in Greece spoke out on Thursday against a new court ruling denying them their rights under Greek and international law.

On Wednesday, an application to re-register Turkish Union Xanthi – one of the oldest associations of Turkish minorities in Greece – was rejected by the Greek Court of Cassation, denying for the third time the group’s struggle in nearly four decades to simply include the word “Turkish” in their name.

The decision caused deep frustration among the Turkish minority, according to a statement from the Turkish Minority Consultative Council in Western Thrace (BTTADK).

Noting that the council expects Greek courts to act in accordance with a 2008 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling on these issues, the statement said Wednesday’s ruling reflects the denial by the Greece for the presence of its Turkish minority in the country.

“We, as the Turkish-Muslim minority in Western Thrace, want to express our unease at the current anti-democratic and rejectionist attitude,” the statement said.

The decision proved, once again, that democracy and equality, as well as international law and human and minority rights, have been eroded in Greece in recent years, the statement added.

The Friendship, Equality and Peace Party (DEB) – a popular party among the Turkish minority in Greece – said the court ruling contradicted the concept of human rights, democracy and minority rights.

“We would like to stress once again that complying with the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights would contribute to democracy in our country,” a party statement said.

The party stressed that it will continue to support the justified struggle of the Turkish Union of Xanthi.

The Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union (BTTOB), another prominent Turkish minority group, said the court ruling was disturbing and unacceptable for the future of the Turkish minority and reiterated its support for the Union’s struggle Turkish Xanthi for the rights of the Turkish minority.

Long struggle for rights

Wednesday’s Greek court ruling rejecting a Turkish Union re-registration application for Xanthi came in response to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights more than a decade ago that Greece did not. has never performed.

Under the 2008 European Court of Human Rights ruling, the right of Turks in Western Thrace to use the word “Turkish” on behalf of associations was guaranteed, but Athens did not implement the ruling. , effectively prohibiting the identity of the Turkish group.

The Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Turkish Muslim community of around 150,000 people.

In 1983, the nameplate of Turkish Union Xanthi (Iskeçe Türk BirliÄŸi) was removed and the group was banned completely in 1986, on the pretext that the word “Turkish” appeared in its name.

To implement the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, the Greek parliament passed a law in 2017 allowing banned associations to request re-registration, but the law provided for major exceptions that complicated requests.

Earlier in the same day, Ankara also urged Athens to follow the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on the Turkish minority.

Turkey has long denounced Greek violations of the rights of its Muslim and Turkish minority, ranging from closing mosques and closing schools to banning Muslim Turks from electing their own religious leaders.

These measures violate the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 as well as the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights, making Greece a state that flouts the law, according to Turkish officials.

As Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu noted during his joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in April, Greece does not recognize Turkish Muslims as Turkish Muslims.


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