Statement Of The Spokesman Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Tanju Bilgiç, In Response To A Question Regarding The Statements Of The Greek Officials On Turkish Minority Of Western Thrace

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 18.05.2016

QA-15, 18 May 2016

Senior Greek officials have been recently alleging that the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace, whom they call as “Muslim minority", enjoy all the rights in EU-member Greece, and they even claim that the Turkish minorityshould fulfill its obligations to the Greek State, disregarding their own obligations.

The current status of the Western Thrace Turkish minority, who want to benefit from minority rights in Greece and to be treated as equal citizens, is very far from the optimistic point of view reflected in the statements of the Greek officials.

In this context, Western Thrace Turkish minority expect most fundamentally from Greece to show respect to the ethnic identity of the minority; to apply European Human Rights Court decisions regarding non-governmental organizations, which it failed to do so for eight years on the grounds that these organizations bore the name "Turkish"; to meet the demands of opening minority kindergartens and minority schools at other levels; to recognize the muftis elected by the minority and not to interfere in their freedom of religion; to ensure that the minority has the full right to speak on the administrations and assets of its foundation; and to re-naturalize the members of the minority, who were deprived of citizenship under the repealed Article 19 of the Greek Citizenship Act.

Closely following and discussing these issues with Greek officials, Turkey expects that the regulations and practices, which will allow the members of the minority to enjoy all fundamental rights and freedoms within the framework of both bilateral and international agreements and universal human rights, take effect in the EU-member Greece as soon as possible. We consider that this will have a positive effect on our bilateral relations.

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