Turkey Presses Demands for Turkish Minority in Greece's Thrace


Ehinos Village in Xanthi. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ΑΝΚΑRA -- While refusing to open the Halki Seminary in Constantinople after 50 years and converting the ancient revered Agia Sophia Orthodox Church there into a mosque, Turkey is insisting on more rights for Muslims living in Greece's Western , Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran accused Greece of violations and is upset mosques in Greece's second-largest city of Thessaloniki aren't being allowed to operate although an official state-paid mosque opened in Athens.

He spoke at a news conference in Turkey’s Consulate General in Komotini as he visited Thrace and Thessaloniki and said Turkish officials have asked Greek authorities to open mosques, Turkey's pro-government The Daily Sabah said.

Turkey plans to make its complaints against Greece to the European Union, the report said, Turkey's government citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne it doesn't recognize unless invoking to its advantage.

Turkey said there are as many as 150,000 Turks – Greece calls them Muslims - living in western Thrace and said their rights were guaranteed under the treaty that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn't apply when it comes to islands ceded to Greece that he now wants back.

Greece's Foreign Ministry rejected the charges and said that the Muslim community in northern Greece is doing well but that they're not Turkish even if they are.

“Greece remains firmly committed to its international obligations, fully respecting international law, which is a compass of its foreign policy,” sources not named told the newspaper Kathimerini.

“The Muslim minority, which is flourishing, numbers about 120,000 inhabitants, Greek citizens,” the same sources added. “Any attempt to distort reality and falsify this information, wherever it comes from, is self-evidently dismissible and needs no further comment.”