MINELRES: ABTTF News: Panel on the Problems of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace in Greece

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Mon Mar 24 09:50:49 2008

Original sender: ABTTF News<news@abttf.org>

Press Release 

Panel on the Problems of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace in
On 13 March 2008, the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe
(ABTTF) organized within the context of its 20th foundation year a panel
on the “Problems of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace in Greece
within the Framework of Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights” in
a parallel meeting to the 7th Session of the Human Rights Council of the
United Nations in Geneva. At the panel, rights of Western Thrace Turkish
Minority and violation of rights of the minority were conveyed to a very
wide and serious audience. The chairman of the discussion was the
President of Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), Mr. Hans
Heinrich Hansen, and the speakers were Ms. Pervin Hayrullah and Mr.
Sinan Kavaz, who both are members of the Western Thrace Minority
University Graduates Association.

Following the opening speech by the Director of International Affairs of
ABTTF, K. Engin Soyyilmaz, Mr. Hansen made a speech on minorities in
Europe and minority rights and expressed that minorities and states had
mutual responsibilities. On continuation of his speech, Mr. Hansen
emphasized that minorities were elements of richness for the majority,
and protection and promotion of all cultural rights of minorities
contrary not the rejection of existence of minorities living within the
boundaries of states is one of the essential responsibilities of states. 

Ms. Hayrullah uttered in detail the exercise and violation of minority
rights in Greece which rejects Turkish ethnic identity of the Turkish
minority of Western Thrace. Then, Mr. Kavaz conveyed to the participants
that associations founded by the minority bearing the word “Turkish” in
their titles were closed down and new associations were banned.
Furthermore, he talked about the violation of rights toward 60 thousand
Western Thrace Turks, who were deprived of their Greek citizenship under
the ex-Article 19 of the Greek Citizenship Law. 

Western Thrace question was carried to the UN Agenda

The participation of Mr. Michael Diamessis and Mr. Marios Lyberopoulos
from the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN Office in Geneva in the
panel as listeners is an indication that problems of Turkish Minority in
Western Thrace were carried to a wide and serious audience. The speech
Mr. Diamessis made using his right of reply on the Greek policy towards
the Western Thrace Turkish Minority and the forthcoming exercises is
considerably important because the meeting succeeded to gather the
minority and the Greek state officials together. 

The panel organized by ABTTF in a parallel meeting to the 7th Session of
the UN Human Rights Council which representatives of 202 countries and
more than 2000 NGOs participated in has reached its goal. Dialog has
been established between the minority and the majority and the panel has
laid the groundwork for the start of talks on Greek violation of human
and minority rights of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace at such an
important international platform. The reaped great success at first
important event after being a member to the UN ECOSOC body is reasonably
satisfactory development for the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace.
And, a great step on the way to getting support of international society
has thus been taken for solution of our problems.

Have attracted attention to the importance of the panel at which
problems of Turkish Minority of Western Thrace was carried to the UN
agenda, Halit Habipoglu, President of ABTTF said, “Speaking regretfully
that our country makes an effort to establish a dialog with us only when
we raise our problems at such international platform. The President
stated, “Despite the existence of legislations of minority concern
approved by those who were grown up among us without taking the opinion
of the minority itself, ABTTF, the voice of the minority in the world,
will continue to work with great determination and decisiveness”. And
the President attracted notice that such hope to establish dialog
between the minority and the Greek state appeared at the panel despite
distant relations between the two parts. Habipoglu also stated that
ABTTF was the voice of the minority in the world which was defined as a
“global village” due to positive effects of globalization and long-life
decisive lobby activities carried out by ABTTF for more than twenty
years. Habipoglu concluded that ABTTF, which struggled for democratic
rights and freedoms, would continue on its way as more powerful at every
day that passed. 



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