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Greece loses the battle29 February 2020

The President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos has paid a visit to Thrace on 10 February. In his speech, which took place in the municipality building of Maronia, he made some significant statements about the region and the relations between Greece and Turkey.

Yunus Onbaşı | Journalist-Economist

The President also emphasized that the Minority living in the region of Thrace is a Muslim Greek Μinority. Of course, this statement was not surprising but fully disappointing for the Minority. The denial of ethnic identity of the Minority living in Western Thrace by Greek officials and generally, by Greek State is not a new matter, but it is a chronic problem.

The existence and the rights of the minority in Greek Thrace were secured by the Treaty of Lausanne signed on 24 July 1923. On the other side of the coin, there is the Greek Minority living in Istanbul with the same status and rights such as the Turkish Minority living in Greece.

The engrossing point of the minorities which have been exempted from the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey and have been left in their genuine ground was the difference between each other. It should be underlined that the Greek Minority who was living in Istanbul, were much more educated and economically developed in comparison with the Minority which has been left in Western Thrace, Greece.

In the historical process, both countries were applying oppressions on the minorities in different severity. It is impossible to exist any doubt that the hardest time for the Greek Minority was September events (Greek: Σεπτεμβριανά Septemvriana, "Events of September"; Turkish: 6–7 Eylül Olayları, "Events of 6–7 September"), which were organized mob attacks directed primarily at Istanbul's Greek minority on 6–7 September 1955. This shameful and unacceptable persecution which was directed to the Minority of Greeks in Istanbul and some other oppressions made the Greeks living there to migrate to Greece. While the Greek state was applying oppressive policy on the Minority, people bowed down and endured. Most of the people who were not rich and educated did not migrate to Turkey, only a small amount did it.

The denial of ethnic identity of the Minority started in the years of the military coup which was a struggling period for the whole society of Greece. In this period, the Greek State applied extreme oppression policy and mobbing on the minority with the aim to ethnically clear the region. The denial of ethnic identity was one of the tools that serve for the aims of assimilation and the Hellenization of the Minority.

Fortunately, this fascist project of Papadopoulos and his fellows did not succeed. Thanks to the martyrs and heroes who fought against fascism and for the freedom, the dictatorial government of Papadopoulos overturned. But the state policy of Greece did not change. This was surprising and disappointing for the minority. The whole country turned to democracy while the Minority continued to live in the dictatorship.

The period, after the military coup, is full of persecution stories against the minority. In that period the communication facilities were so limited so no one was knowing what happens in the region. In those years, the minority has felt how is a real dictatorship.

By the time, the oppression against the Minority Population decreased gradually. However, the state insists on violating minority rights. As we referred before one of them is the denial of the ethnic identity of the Minority.

After the statements of the President of Greece, top Turkish officials slammed Greece’s president for mislabeling the Muslim Turkish minority as a "Greek Muslim minority". In response to this, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that there is a Muslim Minority living in Western Thrace according to the Treaty of Lausanne. And this whole process has been repeated for years.

Greece, on the one hand, claims that the minority living in Western Thrace under the Treaty of Lausanne is a Greek Muslim minority. On the other hand, it recognizes the Turkish as the main language of instruction in minority schools. It is possible to diversify the examples of the paradoxical situations related to the policy of denying the ethnic identity of the minority.

I am pretty sure that the Greek state knows that this policy is not logical and it is not matching with the ethics and the values of the Greek state. Even it does not work. But, Greece is stuck in the corner with this unlogical and anti-democratic policy. Can you imagine what would happen if Greece accepts the fault of the policy which has been applying since the 70s? Greece is afraid of the consequences of this anti-democratic policy. Today's efforts of the Greek State are only aimed at delaying these results and saving time. In this way, Greece insists on this unprofitable policy and continues to damage the relations of the people of the region with the Greek state.

While, Turkey has developed positive relations with minorities, but mainly with the Greek minority by delivering on its citizens' rights and developing strong communication.

Unfortunately, Greek politicians often forget that the Minority living in Greek Thrace are Greek citizens regardless of their Turkish origin. The state does not have direct communication with its citizens. At the same time, State is trying in every way to isolate the Minority and provokes the people by calling the Minority a national problem of the country. Despite this, our politicians complain that the Minority is under the control of third parties. Well, that's unacceptable... What our leaders are doing is an attempt to cover up their failure in their policies on the Minority.

Finally, I would like to propose to our politicians to read Alexander the Great (I consider him one of the greatest leaders the world has seen and admire) and his work, how he merged the societies. I believe that they will understand what I mean.
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