Apostolos\’ Daily Plate

Associations founded by members of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace, Greece

Posted in «Αθλητισμός» by asyropoulos on 27 Μαρτίου, 2008

On March the 25, 2008, the European Court of Human Rights has delivered verdict for the following case:

Emin and Others v. Greece (no. 34144/05)

Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others v. Greece (no. 26698/05)

In Emin and Others, the seven applicants are Greek nationals living in Rodopi (Greece). They are among the founding members of the “Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Region of Rodopi”. In Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others the applicants are two associations, Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and the “Science Graduates Circle of the minority in Western Thrace”, and eight Greek nationals.

Both cases concern the applicants’ complaints about decisions taken against associations founded by members of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace (Greece). Relying in particular on Articles 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination), the applicants in the case of Emin and Others complain of the refusal by the Greek courts to register their association and the applicants in the case of Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others of the court-ordered dissolution of the association Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis. In Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others the applicants also complain, under Article 6 § 1, of the excessive length of the proceedings.

Let me be straight about this issue. Here in Greece everyone is free to establish any kind of association as long as the purposes of this association or the very existence of this association are not a threat for the national security of the country. The Court rightly identifies the complainants as Greek nationals, members of the Muslim Minority of Western Thrace, Greece. However, it failed to realize that it is the names of their associations that pose a national security threat for Greece. And here is why. First note that the term «Tourkiki,» which is a transliteration of the work Τουρκική, means Turkish. When Greek nationals, members of the Muslim minority of Western Thrace, have the right to call themselves Turks, then it is very easy to conclude that there is Turkish minority in Greece, which is not correct (for example the annual report of the US State Department does not mention the existence of such a minority) . If one accepts the existence of a Turkish minority, then this minority has every lawful right to demand self-determination and, by going one step ahead, independence. After all, this exactly what happened with Kosovo. Therefore, this is not a human rights issue, but an issue of national security and as such the Court has no jurisdiction. To put it simply, we do not want to see Western Thrace to become the Kosovo of Greece.

Now what remains a mystery is what did the Greek state to defend its position.

4 Σχόλια

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  1. Alexandros said, on 28 Μαρτίου, 2008 at 1:06 μμ

    In my opinion, if there *is* a minority with separatistic tendencies, then the name problem will not guarantee national security (it is only a picture).

    On the other hand, if a group in Greece should not have the right to call itself «Turkish», then does this not apply to the Greeks in Turkey, Albania, or other countries? I live for many years in Germany, and I know people that have the German citizenship, but consider themselves Greek nationals. There are many associations, Greek, Turkish, Polish, French, etc. without creating national security problems.

    I think, that mutual liberality (in Greece and Turkey) should be the solution to this problem. Acceptance of the names that include «Turkish» in Greece as well «Greek» in Turkey.

  2. asyropoulos said, on 28 Μαρτίου, 2008 at 1:39 μμ

    Obviously you are comparing apples with oranges. Have a look at the human-rights record for Turkey and compare it with the corresponding record for Greece. And the very fact that we are free to discuss this matter is something that is not guaranteed in Turkey. And that is of course yet another reason this country has no place in Europe. In addition, the minority is not a Turkish minority: the Treaty of Lausanne (http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Treaty_of_Lausanne) does not mention a Turkish minority in Greece.

  3. Alexandros said, on 31 Μαρτίου, 2008 at 8:44 πμ

    Actually I did not compare Turkey with Greece, but the behaviour of the Greeks to name the Turks that live in Greece as Greek Muslims and the Greeks that live in other countries as Greeks. This is inconsistency weakens the arguments (about naming rights).

    My suggestion was to work on mutual recognition. This could be proven more fruitful.

    As it concerns the issue «national security» I think that this should not be a matter of definition or naming rights, but of financial and social development, as well as political will. If Greek national security is dependent on the names of the local associations, then there is a substantial problem about this security.

    It is very interesting that the fact about the human rights abuse in Turkey is used as an argument by those who really care about human rights and do want Turkey to join the EU in order to restrict this abuse. We see here a fact being used for two opposite directions. Once pro and once against the join. Personally, I think that if you do not want Turkey to join the EU you should not use this fact in your arguments, because it leads to a contradiction: the people in Turkey that abuse human rights are exactly these that want Turkey not to join the EU; supporting the exclusion of Turkey of the EU by using human rights as an argument, you support *by negation* the work of those who abuse them. If you care about HR, ask the people whose rights are abused.

  4. asyropoulos said, on 31 Μαρτίου, 2008 at 11:48 πμ

    The reason the Treaty of Lausanne does not mention a Turkish minority but a Muslim is that it consists of Pomaks, Roma people, and a small number who are actually Turks. I happen to know many members of the «Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis» and most of them are Pomaks. And that is something that I do not like.

    As far it regards Turkey’s membership in the EU, I think they have no place in the EU simply because they are not a European nation. The human rights records is an argument for those who do not buy the geographical objection. At any rate, Turkey has a long way to go just to partially meet the entrance critiria. And once it will meet them, then the European citizens should vote whether they should be members of their family.


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