Greece’s decision to close minority schools is ‘discrimination’: Ankara

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Turkey on Sunday called Greece’s decision to close more schools belonging to the Turkish minority in Western Thrace a “discrimination”.

“Discrimination is the rule in Greece,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on Twitter.

Sharing some figures about the Turkish minority in Western ThraceBilgiç said Greece has no kindergartens and only two high schools with insufficient buildings and old textbooks.

He added that Greece does not provide schools in Western Thrace if the total number of Turkish minority students needing schooling is less than nine, while it is four for minority students. Greek in Turkey.

Bilgiç also noted that the number of teachers for Turkish minority students is the same as for Greek minority students in Turkey, despite the 3,000 Greek minorities in Turkey and the 150,000 Turkish minorities in Greece.

On Friday, Turkey condemned Greece’s decision to close four more primary schools belonging to the Turkish Muslim minority in Western Thrace for the 2022/2023 school year.

“With this latest decision, more than half of minority primary schools have been closed. Thus, the Greek policy of closing primary schools belonging to the Turkish Muslim minority in Western Thrace through a “temporary suspension” has been proven to be systematic,” Bilgiç said. in a previous statement.

Bilgiç reiterated the right of the Turkish minority to establish, manage and inspect their own schools under the Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923, which eventually paved the way for an independent Turkish republic.

He said the recent measures show the “discriminatory and oppressive policies” implemented against the Turkish minority in the field of education.

Bilgiç had also urged Greece to end its discriminatory policies towards Turkish minority schools year after year, adding: “The Republic of Turkey will continue to support the struggle of the minority for their rights and justice, both in bilateral contacts and international platforms.

In response, Athens issued a statement saying: “Unfortunately, Ankara has once again turned reality entirely inverted in order to promote positions that do not stand up to scrutiny. We reject them in their entirety. We emphasize that the decision of suspending the operation of schools is taken by applying exactly the same criteria throughout Greece, namely failure to achieve a minimum number of nine (9) students For the academic year 2022-2023, only in the Region of Macedonia Eastern-Thrace, in addition to the four (4) minority primary schools, the operation of twenty-nine (29) other non-minority primary schools is also suspended.Therefore, no one can complain of discrimination against pupils from of minorities.

During a visit to Western Thrace on Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran also said that the Treaty of Lausanne, which is described as the founding document of the Republic of Turkey, is also the destiny of the Turks of Thrace. western.

“We believe in strict adherence to all provisions of the Lausanne Treaty, and we are always against and will continue to be against efforts to erode these provisions,” he stressed.

In a video message on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Lausanne peace treaty, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that Greece had recently deliberately eroded the terms and conditions of the Lausanne peace treaty.

“The terms and conditions of the Lausanne peace treaty, in particular the rights of the Turkish minority, have recently been deliberately eroded by Greece,” he said.

“It is not possible for our country to accept this situation, which is incompatible with the principle of good neighborliness and loyalty to the treaty,” he added.

The Treaty of Lausanne was signed on July 24, 1923, after the Turkish victory in the War of Independence.

Describing it as one of the founding documents of the Republic of Turkey, Erdoğan pointed out that Ankara has meticulously monitored its implementation over the past 99 years.

“With the peace treaty of Lausanne, our land borders were drawn, the capitulations were abolished, the rights of the Turkish minority in Greece were guaranteed and the non-military status of the Greek islands close to our coasts was confirmed”, did he declare.

Turkey continues to strengthen its active position in regional and global issues as it strides towards 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne and the founding of the Republic of Turkey, he added.

“We are determined to do everything possible for lasting peace and tranquility in the region and to protect the rights of our beloved nation,” the president said.

Erdoğan also expressed his respect for Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, his comrades, martyrs and veterans.

The Greek region of Western Thrace is home to some 150,000 Muslim Turks, whose rights to elect their own religious leaders, found Turkish associations and have their own schools have been denied by Athens in violation of European court orders.

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