By Mehmet Hatipoglu
Head of Greece’s Friendship, Equality and Peace (FEP) Party on Wednesday called on Athens to return the guaranteed rights of the Turkish minority in the Western Thrace.
The Turkish minority in Western Thrace faces the threat of assimilation as they cannot practice their guaranteed rights, Mustafa Alicavus told Anadolu Agency in the northeastern Greek city of Komotini.
He criticized the Greek government of not sticking to the Treaty of Lausanne after it was signed.
“Greece has always applied pressure on the Turkish Muslim minority and seized their existing rights,” Alicavus said.
Turkish minority “do not have rights to choose muftis, their own religious leaders,” he said. “They cannot open new minority schools, which are greatly needed.”
“The right of minorities to form an association is usurped. Activities of our associations were shut down with a court decision as having the word 'Turkish' in their names was not allowed.
“All of these make the Turkish community, which has existed peacefully for decades on this soil, face the threat of assimilation,” the FEP party head said.
Expressing his concerns over the future, Alicavus said, “We want our rights, determined by international agreements which Greece also signed -- in particular, the Lausanne Treaty --, to be returned.”
Greece recently had closed several associations in the Western Thrace because they had the word "Turkish" in their names.
Although the ECHR convicted Greece regarding this matter, Greece does not implement the ECHR verdicts on the issue.
Greece refuses to recognize that there is a Turkish minority in Greece and recognizes it only with its religious denomination, as a Muslim minority.
Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Muslim Turkish minority of around 150,000 people.