The Pomaks (Slavic-speaking Muslims) of Western Thrace expressed strong reactions to the attempts by Turkey to instrumentalise them against Greece.
“There are no Turkish villages in Greece, we are Greeks who fought for our country and we want to stay out of Turkey’s political games,” a Pomak community leader told Ta Nea following Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Greece on Sunday and Monday.
She also explain Turkey’s attempt to commit “cultural and linguistic genocide” against them, while the Panhellenic Association went so far as to characterize Çavuşoğlu as a “persona non grata” to their villages.
“Greece is a hospitable and beautiful country and anyone can visit it,” said the president of the Cultural Association of Pomaks of Xanthi, Emine Bouroutzi.
“What it cannot do is identify its Muslim community as Turkish. We are Greeks, and in fact the most ancient Greek race of Thrace,” said Bouroutzi.
“After all, the Pomaks often call themselves Agrians, after the ancient Thracian tribe that inhabited the barren parts of Mount Skomio and Northwestern Rhodopes, a tribe known for their javelin skills and who had fought with the army of Alexander the Great,” she said.
“Even the Pomak language they refer to is a multicultural language because it has no written form, uses elements from both Arabic and Greek, and from ancient Greek,” the president explained.
She also explained that in Pomakochoria, a collection of Pomak villages, “very few people over the age of 40 know how to speak Turkish. In any case, we are and will be Greeks.”
“And we want to stay out of the games of Turkish foreign policy,” Bouroutzi added.
She also referred to the statement issued by the Pomaks of Xanthi, which states: “In recent decades, the Pomaks and the Roma of Thrace have been subjected to a cultural and linguistic genocide by Turkish settlers.”
“We try with our teeth and nails to prevent the cultural and linguistic genocide against us and we fight for the obvious, that is, we try to prove that we are not elephants!” she said.
“We have been hearing for a long time now from third countries,” she said in indirect reference to Turkey, “without any reason, raising issues of a ‘Turkish minority’.”
“The minority is one and has been defined by the Treaty of Lausanne, it is Muslim as it consists of communities that have only one thing in common, religion!” she added.