The Pomaks of Thrace did not stand idly and responded to the fake allegations made by both the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Devlet Bahçeli, a government partner of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Recently, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a teleconference with 17 students of the Pachnis school in the prefecture of Xanthi and spoke about the “young Greeks” of “Pomakochoria” (Pomak villages), something that brought reactions in Turkey.
In his tirade, Bahçeli called Greece’s “policies of assimilation” as “fascist” and called the Pomaks as “Turks.”
The Pomaks are a Slavic-speaking Muslim population in Greece’s Thrace region and constitute a large part of the 120,000-strong Muslim minority.
In the aftermath of Bahçeli’s statements, the Pomak community through their Facebook page, Rodopi-Pomakochoria, clarified that “we are Pomak Muslims and Greek citizens”.
The post addressed to Bahçeli states, among other things: “We are Pomaks and not Turks and our villages are also called Pomak villages and not Turkish villages.”
“We were, are and will remain Pomak Muslims and Greek citizens,” they continued, adding: “you cannot make us Turks by force and threats.”
ΚΟΙΝΟΠΟΙΗΣΤΕ ΓΙΑ ΝΑ ΜΑΘΕΙ Ο ΓΚΡΙΖΟΣ ΛΥΚΟΣ ΠΩΣ ΣΤΗ ΘΡΑΚΗ ΥΠΑΡΧΟΥΝ ΠΟΜΑΚΟΙ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΜΑΚΟΧΩΡΙΑ Ει DEVLET. Στη Πάχνη…
As one social media user said, “We are the proud people of Pomak, our native language belongs to the Slavic language and not Turkish.
“We do not want to be the manipulations and puppets of your Turkish propaganda, give us the opportunity to learn only Greek and not Turkish in our minority schools.
“Don’t play us against the Greek government and our homeland, just disappear.
Everyone who thinks they are Turkish can go to Turkey, let the Pomaks live in peace.”
It is recalled that in March, the Cultural Association of Pomaks of Xanthi reacted strongly to recent statements by the president of the minority party KIEF, Çiğdem Asafoğlu, who once again characterised the Muslim Minority in Thrace as “Turkish.”
They pointed out to the president of KIEF that she “can feel like Turk and longs for Turkey” but the Pomaks “feel for their homeland Greece and feel like Greeks.”
Turkey repeatedly claims that the 120,000-strong Muslim minority in Greece’s Thrace are “Turkish,” despite the fact that Turkish-speakers make up a minority of the group who overwhelmingly identify as Greeks, Pomaks or Roma.
Turkey’s own Foreign Ministry website affirms that there is only officially a Muslim minority in Western Thrace via 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.”