The spokesperson of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Hami Aksoy issued a statement on Friday in regard to religious issues of the Muslim minority in Greece’s region of Western Thrace, with Athens responding by issuing a tough statement on Saturday.
”Greece violates the Lausanne Peace Treaty, by failing to recognize the Muftis elected by the Turkish Minority”, Aksoy noted.
The issue involves the local Muslim religious leaders, who, other than their religious duties, have judicial powers too, according to Muslim law.
For this reason, the Greek State does not recognize the Muftis that are elected by the local Muslim communities in Thrace. Instead, the Greek authorities appoint their own Muftis.
Turkey has been accusing Greece on this issue for decades.
”Greece has aggravated its violations by putting the office of the Mufti and the work of the Minority Muftis under the control of a newly established government department” the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated.
”Turkey will continue to advocate the rightful interests and demands of the Turkish minority in Greece, and reiterates that any improvement in the rights of the Minority will have a positive impact on our bilateral relations,” the statement concluded.
Απάντηση εκπροσώπου Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών σε ερώτηση δημοσιογράφου σχετικά με τοποθέτηση εκπροσώπου τουρκικού ΥΠΕΞ για ζήτημα της μουσουλμανικής μειονότητας Θράκηςhttps://t.co/Shp1pgQNEC pic.twitter.com/MuBD2mZGPi
— Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών (@GreeceMFA) June 22, 2019
Responding to Turkey’s accusations, the Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Saturday afternoon, noting that ”Greece does not get lessons from Turkey on how to enforce the Treaty of Lausanne, international law and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights”.
The Ministry added that the members of the Muslim minority in Greece, “enjoy the same rights as every Greek citizen”.
The statement concluded by calling on Turkey to ”end its interfering logic and the reproduction of unacceptable statements”.
The Muslim Minority in Thrace is Greece’s only officially recognized religious minority, which Turkey lately calls ”Turkish”, clearly violating the Treaty of Lausanne, which states that the minority in Thrace is religious and not national.