The "instrumentalisation" of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace is attempted once again by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, this time from the platform of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Ignoring what the Treaty of Lausanne explicitly states, and recalling from the past the role of the protector of Muslims everywhere, Erdoğan accused Greece of "illegal practices" against the "Turkish" minority in Thrace, even calling the Islamic world to action.
It is recalled that the Treaty of Lausanne only recognises a "Muslim minority" in Western Thrace, not a Turkish one.
"The religious leaders of our brothers in Greece are not recognised. The properties of their endowments are confiscated. They are not allowed to learn their mother tongue. Their identities are denied," the Turkish president said defiantly, from the podium of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
"The Islamic world should no longer be a spectator to the persecution of our brothers in Greece," he added.
Mitsotakis meeting with minority school students
Erdoğan's position followed the meeting held last Thursday by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Palace with students of minority Primary Schools in Rhodopi, refuting Ankara's claims about non-equality in Thrace.
The Muslim minority party KIEF/DEB, which maintains open channels of communication with Turkey and the Turkish consulate in Komotini, said in a statement that the meeting was "another unfortunate statement about the 'Turkish' Muslim minority of Western Thrace."
— DEB / ΚΙΕΦ / FEP (@DebPartisi) November 26, 2022
“We hoped that our children would not experience the feelings of discrimination and marginalisation that we have experienced as a minority until today.
"Then we despaired at the press release announced by the Prime Minister about the reception. We were disappointed by the recognition of our children (…) who named the students of the Turkish Muslim minority as Pomaks.
"Also, the attitude of calling the Turkish element as a Muslim minority is curious. The mother tongue of the minority is Turkish. Therefore, the identity is Turkish. This unfortunate statement overshadowed the reception.
"However, the only positive aspect of this reception for us is that it was held on an important day for us, November 24, which we celebrate as Teachers' Day."
To the new provocative statements by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan about the minority, and indirectly to the Turkish opposition KIEF/DEB, the government representative Yannis Economou responded:
"The Muslim minority in Thrace fully enjoys its rights, based on the Constitution, like all Greek citizens. Our country is a country that absolutely respects the religious rights of Greek citizens, fully respects its obligations, as they arise from the Greek Constitution.
"History generously offers examples of how other countries, specifically Turkey, had behaved in similar cases."