Greece uses temporary closures to permanently close Turkish schools
The Turkish Foreign Ministry says the closure of schools, permanent or temporary, in Western Thrace violates the education rights of minority children.
Turkey has lambasted a decision by the Greek government to close 12 other schools serving the country’s Muslim Turkish minority, saying it violates education rights.
Under a decree from the Ministry of Education, eight Rhodope schools and four Xanthi schools in the country’s western Thrace will be temporarily suspended, a move which Turkey says is planned and often turns out to be permanent.
A total of 132 minority schools in the country have been closed since 2011, and the number of schools operating in Rhodope, Xanthi and Evros provinces has fallen to 103.
Greece justified the closures by saying there were too few students.
Read Turkey’s full statement here
Turks in Greece focus on minority education rights
The Advisory Council of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace condemned the decision and stressed that the education of minorities is determined by international agreements, in particular the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, as well as by protocols signed between Turkey and Turkey. Greece.
“We would like to underline our disappointment and protest against the undemocratic practices of our country, Greece, and especially of the current government, concerning the education of minorities and its attitude insensitive to the just demands which have been expressed for years,” said the Council. . in a report.
“The closure decisions (of schools) announced this year were released at a time when the whole country was on vacation. This alone clearly shows that the decision is part of a planned and malicious effort against the Turkish minority in Western Thrace. “, did he declare.
“We condemn and do not accept this behavior, which is neither suitable for human relations nor for pluralist democracy.”
“More than half of minority schools closed”
Turkey also condemned the move, saying it would mean more than half of minority primary schools in Greece will be closed.
“Greece’s policy of closing primary schools belonging to the Turkish minority in Western Thrace through ‘temporary suspension’ has proven to be systematic,” a foreign ministry statement said.
“In addition, in recent legal regulations covering schools in Greece, we observed that minority schools are excluded from many articles, which constitutes discrimination,” he added.
The statement also said the decision violates the Treaty of Lausanne and is a further sign of “policies of assimilation and oppression” towards Turks in Western Thrace over the decades.
He also accused Greece of ignoring requests to open new secondary / secondary schools for minorities, despite a need, “thus violating the educational rights of minority children”.
“We call on Greece to end its discriminatory policy towards minority schools, as shown by the latest legislation,” he added, stressing that Turkey “will continue to support the minority’s struggle for its rights and its law “in bilateral meetings as well as on international platforms.
“The international community should no longer be a spectator of the systematic violation of human rights in an EU member state,” he added.
Greece, on the other hand, dismissed the accusations and said it was continuing to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne. In a statement, the Greek Foreign Minister said that in addition to 12 minority schools, 24 other primary schools have been closed in the region due to low student numbers.
The region of Western Thrace in Greece – in the northeast of the country, near the Turkish border – is home to a large, long-established Muslim Turkish minority, numbering around 150,000.
The rights of the Turks of Western Thrace were guaranteed by the Treaty of Lausanne, a pact forged in the aftermath of the First World War.
After a Greek junta came to power in 1967, Turks in Western Thrace began to face more severe persecution and violations of their rights by the Greek state, often in flagrant violation of court rulings. Europeans.
The Turkish minority continues to face issues of collective and civil rights and education, ranging from banning the word “Turkish” in the names of organizations to trying to prevent the Turkish community from electing its own leaders. and imams.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies