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Politics

Greece, Turkey Battle Over Muslim Schools, Troops on Greek Islands

Ignoring their agreement not to spar during the summer so as not to scare off tourists, Greece and Turkey are wrangling over Muslim minority schools in northern Greece and Turkey's insistence Greek remove troops from Greek islands near Turkey's coast.

The Greek Foreign Ministry denied the closing of 12 minority primary schools in Thrace was, as Turkey claimed, a violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne provisions that Turkey doesn't recognize unless invoking to its advantage.

In a statement, the ministry said that Turkey was “distorting reality,” making “baseless claims” and spreading “fake news” with the allegations, said Kathimerini.

The ministry said the decision to suspend the operation of the 12 schools was because they didn't have the required minimum of nine students and added that another 24 public schools are being closed in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace for the same reason.

The ministry said that the Muslim minority in Thrace has some 120,000 people while Greek minority in Turkey has shrunk to just 3,000 from being equal in size at the signing of the agreement, while more than 100 minority schools will operate in Thrace in the next academic year, as opposed to just three Greek schools in Constantinople.

Meanwhile,  Greece’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maria Theofili sent Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a letter rebutting Turkey's claims that were being used to demand Greece demilitarize Aegean islands.

Theofili’s letter –  a response to the July 13 letter from her Turkish counterpart Feridun Sinirlioglu – said Turkey is trying to get the UN to go along with doubting the sovereignty of Greek islands, the paper said.

She also said Turkey is laying the ground work to return to hunting for energy in and around Greek waters and off Greek islands, which almost led to a conflict in 2020 before Turkey backed off.

She said Turkey’s insistence on linking the Aegean islands’ sovereignty with their demilitarization as “totally unsubstantiated, arbitrary and in bad faith,” as Greece strikes back.

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