In response to the provocations made by the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister during his trip to Thessaloniki today, government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said that Greece’s success “disturbs” Turkey.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran unashamedly said on Twitter that the so-called Turkish community face “restrictions on freedom of language, religion and worship.”
He also claimed that “our kinsmen […] conserve their identity and religion against all odds.”
In speaking to SKAI, Peloni said “these statements do not help to establish a good atmosphere in bilateral relations” and that his comments “increase tensions.”
“The success of the Greek government is disturbing them,” she said, adding that “the channels of communication must remain open, especially when there is tension.
His provocative tweet comes as only yesterday the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that the Deputy Foreign Minister will meet with “members of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace.”
Turkey’s own Foreign Ministry website affirms that there is only a Muslim minority in the Treaty of Lausanne Part VI Article 2 that states:
“Moslems established in the region to the east of the frontier line laid down in 1918 by the Treaty of Bucharest shall be considered as Moslem inhabitants of Western Thrace.”
The Treaty of Lausanne, which outlined the modern borders of Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, affirms that there is only a Greek Muslim minority in Western Thrace.
Despite this legal document, in recent years the Erdoğan regime has challenged the Treaty of Lausanne.
Turkey now describes all 120,000 Muslims in Greece’s Western Thrace as “Turks” irrespective of whether they are Roma, Pomak (Slavic-speaking Muslims) or Greek.
The Ottoman millet system assigned ethnicity by religion, rather than language, culture, self-identification and familial history.
In this way, all Muslims in the Balkans, irrespective of their ethnic background, were described as Turks, something that the Erdoğan regime is attempting to revive despite the Treaty of Lausanne.
Although Kıran says Greek Muslims survived “against all odds,” the fact is that near the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Muslim population in Western Thrace stood at 86,000.
Today it is 140,000 strong.
There were 125,000 Greeks living in Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις, Turkish: İstanbul) at the signing of the Lausanne Treaty in 1923, but today there are less than 1,000 due to Turkish state and ultra-nationalist persecution and violence.