State of Greece’s Turkish minority worsened under incumbent government, says main opposition deputy

The state of Greece's Turkish minority, concentrated mostly in the Western Thrace region, worsened under the incumbent New Democracy (ND) government, said a main opposition deputy. Huseyin Zeybek, a deputy of SYRIZA party of Turkish origins, told Anadolu that the government had failed the test of democracy. He reiterated that Greece violated the European Human Rights Court's rulings protecting the Turkish minority's freedom of association. Greek authorities shut down the Iskece (Xanthi) Turkish Union for having the word Turkish in its name. 'However, I believe, SYRIZA has a better understanding of human rights and minority rights and hence it will deal with this matter differently,' he said. Furthermore, the pressure on Turkish associations and the minority at large intensified during the government led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Zeybek added. Both Mitsotakis and Nikos Androulakis, the leader of the social-democrat opposition party PASOK, ignored the minority in their recent visits to the Western Thrace, he said. The ruling party's economic policies which favor the rich and powerful over farmers and the working-class negatively affect the minority's economic situation, he said. Zeybek also stressed that SYRIZA favors dialogue with Ankara to resolve the problems between the two countries. The Western Thrace region, near the northeastern border with Trkiye, is home to a substantial, long-established Muslim Turkish minority numbering 150,000. The rights of the Turks are guaranteed under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne but during the decades since the situation has seriously deteriorated, including Greece refusing to carry out rulings by the ECHR. Associations having "Turkish" in their names are still banned in Western Thrace, although the ECHR ruled against Greece in 2008.

Source: Anadolu Agency