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Turks of Greece honor late leader Sadik Ahmet25 July 2019

Turkish, European politicians take part in the ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of Sadik Ahmet in Komotini, Greece.

Members of the Turkish minority in Greece commemorated their former leader late on Wednesday on 24 years since his untimely death, with the participation of politicians from Turkey and Europe.

Elected twice as a lawmaker to the Greek Parliament, Sadik Ahmet led campaigns for the rights of Turks living in Western Thrace in the country, after years of persecution by Athens.

On July 24, 1995 -- the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne, the agreement which guarantees the rights of the Turkish minority in Greece -- Ahmet was killed at age 48 in a suspicious car crash.

Western Thrace is home to a Muslim-Turkish minority numbering around 150,000, which has harsh persecution during the 1970s and 80s.

The ceremony at Ahmet's grave in Komotini (Gumulcine) was attended by top Turkish politicians including Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Group Chairman Engin Altay, opposition IYI (Good) Party leader Meral Aksener, opposition Saadet (Felicity) Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu and Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici.

The ceremony was also attended by European Free Alliance Party Vice President Marta Bainka and Lutfu Mestan, leader of Bulgaria's Dost Party.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sentop said Sadik Ahmet has become a symbol of unity for the Turkish minority of Western Thrace.

Sentop said Turks in Western Thrace faced obstacles on transferring their religious culture to new generations as they were not allowed to open new schools.

"There are problems concerning the implementation of the minority's rights which were guaranteed under the Treaty of Lausanne," he stressed.

Sentop said there were also "great problems" regarding the assets of Muslim religious foundations in Greece.

He said Turkey always stood by the Muslim-Turkish minority of Western Thrace and would continue to do so.

"Protecting the rights of our kin is a foreign policy priority for Turkey," Sentop added.

As a descendent of migrants from North Macedonia, Sentop was born and raised in Tekirdag, Turkey in the Eastern Thrace region near the Greek border.

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