Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is unrepentant to the decline of the Greek minority in Turkey and attempted to respond to Athens' data shortly after being humiliated at the United Nations General Assembly.
European Union Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore said at the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday that Turkey should protect the human rights and property rights of its Greek minority.
Referring specifically to Turkey, Gilmore said, “The EU deeply regrets past discriminatory policies implemented by Turkey, which resulted in the Greek Minority currently being on the verge of extinction.
“In this context, the EU reiterates the call on Turkey to protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, including property rights of persons belonging to minorities and minorities’ legal entities.”
Gilmore was speaking on the Assembly’s 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
The declaration “remains a milestone for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities referred to above,” he said
For his part, Erdoğan told reporters on the presidential plane upon his return from New York.: "I can't say much about the Greek foreign minister, he is not my counterpart... If he is going to speak, let him see Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and talk with him. But the prime minister [Kyriakos Mitsotakis], unfortunately, he does not know his own situation with Turkey. We have not been the government that wants the reduction of the Greek population in Turkey."
"On the contrary, when I had traveled to Tenedos and Imbros, for example, I always asked the few Greeks who lived there, 'Where are your children? In America,' they told me. I told them, 'Bring them to live here. 'I can't bring my child from America,' they told me.
"What does this show? It means that they have no desire or effort to live in Turkey. If nothing else, our door is open. We would give citizenship to this child, if he had no citizenship. But of course the Greek foreign minister knows nothing of all this. They live in their own world."
In fact, he repeated, as SKAI correspondent Manolis Kostidis reports, that he decided to mediate for the marriage of a Greek man with Turkish woman.
“Actually, it made a lot of sense that once, a (Greek) family did not allow someone to marry a Turkish woman. I said, 'If you ask me for help, I'll try.' There is also that."
Also, the president of Turkey spoke of a "positive climate", however, unlike Kyriakos Mitsotakis, he did not see Joe Biden at the reception hosted by the American president in honor of the leaders participating in the high-level week of the 77th UN General Assembly.
"We are currently interested in buying F-16s. We had positive discussions with Mr. Biden on this issue. I've also had some meetings with Republican senators here. Our Minister Hulusi Akar is also having talks with his counterpart. We are moving towards a positive climate. We hope that this positive atmosphere will continue. I believe that we will have a result from this work as soon as possible," he noted.
“Of course,” said the Turkish president, “we did not have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Biden at the reception. Later, we may have an opportunity to discuss these matters with telephone diplomacy. But we will monitor the process with the meetings of the Minister of National Defence and our Minister of Foreign Affairs. Developments are moving in a positive direction from now on."
At the same time, the president of Turkey said, referring to the Muslim minority: "The Synod of the Patriarchate must have a certain number of members. Their number had been reduced to seven. Because it did not have a specific number, as I told Patriarch Bartholomew: 'Bring the priests from abroad, I will give them citizenship, because they must be citizens of the Republic of Turkey, so you have completed the Synod.' They ended it like that. But of course the Greek foreign minister knows nothing of all this. They're flying into space!"
"Our door is always open (for Greeks), we also give citizenship. During our time we did not expel any Greeks from our country. However, there is no limit to the persecutions they are currently perpetrating against our citizens and compatriots in Western Thrace. Recently, in fact, they want to appoint our own priests (muftis) there themselves. What can you understand from the state and structure of our clergy? Have we made such an effort? Did we stand up and appoint the priests here etc? No", he commented, forgetting that the appointment of muftis by the Greek state is provided for in the Treaty of Lausanne and that Turkey itself appoints their own Imams.
It is worth noting that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, in his statements from New York after Erdoğan's delirium from the floor of the UN General Assembly, had referred with specific data to the issue of the Greek minority in Istanbul compared to the Muslim minority in Greece.
"In principle, Greece is a European country, which absolutely respects human rights and of course the rights of the Muslim minority. After all, the numbers prove it. The Muslim minority in Greece is growing, expanding and prospering. It would be good for Turkey to answer what happened to the Greek minority in Istanbul and how the once thriving minority of over 100,000 has today been reduced to less than 5,000 people", the Greek Foreign Minister said.
Greek minority in Turkey victim of the 1955 pogrom
Until 1955 there were about one hundred thousand Greeks living in Constantinople (Istanbul). Now they are less than two thousand.
In September of 1955, the large Greek population became victim to a heinous pogrom that resulted in the suffering and death of many and the destruction of countless homes and businesses.
Men and women were raped, and according to the testimony of the famous Turkish writer Aziz Nesin, many priests were forced to be circumcised, with one of the victims being an Armenian priest.
The Pogrom against Hellenism in Istanbul resulted in the death of sixteen Greeks and the injury of thirty-two, the death of one Armenian, the rape of twelve Greek women, and the rape of an unspecified number of men, but the real numbers could be much higher.
Violence against the Greeks took place not only in Istanbul but also in Izmir, or Smyrna. On the morning of September 7th, Turkish nationalists set fire to the Greek pavilion at the Izmir International Fair.
Economic destruction and fear forced thousands of expatriates to emigrate to Greece. Of the one hundred thousand Greeks who resided in Istanbul in 1955, only two thousand remain in the city today.