Iraqi Turkmens in solidarity with the Western Thrace TurksDecember 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Ethnic Turks in Greece, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Turks of Western Thrace
Iraqi Turkmens in solidarity with the Western Thrace Turks
ITF EU Representative attended the Meeting on Human Rights Violations Against Ethnic Turks in Greece at the EU Parliament
Halit Habipoğlu President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF); Willy Fautré, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) and Dr. Hassan Aydinli Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) EU representative
Hans-Heinrich Hansen President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities, Willy Fautré Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers and Dr. Hassan Aydinli ITF EU representative
François Alfonsi Member of the European Parliament and Dr. Hassan Aydinli ITF EU Representative
Brussels, 28th November 2012
The Meeting was hosted by : François Alfonsi, Member of the European Parliament
The Moderator: Hans-Heinrich Hansen, President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities
François Alfonsi, Member of the European Parliament
Willy Fautré, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International
Cemil Kabza, Journalist from Western Thrace
Sinan Kavaz, Attorney of Xanthi Turkish Union
The ethnic Turks in Thrace who have been living within the borders of the Ottoman Empire since at least the 14th century reject being defined only as a religious minority but identify themselves as “Turkish” or “ Muslim Turkish”.
For several centuries the Ottoman Empire extended its rule throughout Central and Southeastern Europe.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, new states emerged in Southeastern Europe, breaking from an Ottoman Empire in decomposition. The new division of territories was based on the creation of “ethnic states” which fitted within an international context of an ideal division of countries and territories into “nation-states”. This policy resulted in a potential for conflicts which has its origin in two main factors: a strong feeling of irredentism in the newly-formed states but also internal tensions between the new Orthodox Christian rulers (the majority group) and their Muslim population (the minority group) which they perceived as “remnants” of the Ottoman “occupation”.
War between Greece and Turkey from 1919 to 1922 ended with negotiation of the 1923 Peace Treaty of Lausanne, a convention which provided for a compulsory exchange of population (except for the Greeks living is Istanbul and the Turks in Western Thrace) between the two countries. Muslims in Greece, apart from those in Western Thrace, were resettled in Turkey: about 400,000 – 500,000 Muslims (mainly Turks). Orthodox Greeks numbering about 1.0 -1.2 million – with the exception of those in Istanbul (Constantinople). Gökçcada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) – left Turkey (540,000 settled in Greek Macedonia).
The 1923 TREATY OF LAUSANNE guaranteed equal protection of the “non-Muslim minorities of Turkey” (there were not only Greek Orthodox) and the “Muslim minority of Greece” (loosely applied to Turks, Pomaks and Roma). This minority is the only group in Greece that has a minority status officially recognized by the Greek state. Greece has never questioned its existence.
Generally speaking, the Western Thrace Turkish Minority suffers from insufficient political representation on Greek public sphere. Despite the existence of two minority MPs in the Hellenic Parliament and more than 200 minority people in local administrations, there are some structural restrictions on the political representation of minority. After the election of the first independent minority MP to the Hellenic Parliament in late 1980s the Greek electoral law was changed on 24 October 1990 and an electoral threshold of 3% was introduced for the first time. Since the threshold was also implemented for the independent candidates, the minority has lost the chance of being represented in the parliament through its own party and/or with an independent MP (3% of the total population of Greece means nearly 300.000 votes, whereas the total population of the minority is estimated at about 150.000). Due to these regulations the minority can only be represented with MPs elected through majority political parties in the parliament, which in turn, often proves to be a hindrance to freely express their position regarding minority affairs.
Ethnic Turks in Greece, a Muslim Minority
By Willy Fautré, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers