Anglo-Turkish Society

ATS lecture: The Turks of Western Thrace in Greece since the Treaty of Lausanne, Dr. Sebahattin Abdurrahman

The Turks of Western Thrace are one of the few remaining Turkish communities in the Balkans and are the only minority community officially recognised by the Greek state as a ‘Muslim minority’. They formally became a minority in the Greek territories with the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The number of their population is estimated to be between 120,000 – 140,000 and they are located in the region of Western Thrace, in the north-eastern part of Greece.

Being an ‘old’ and ‘historical’ community, the Muslim-Turkish minority holds group-based minority rights provided by international treaties which were signed and ratified by Greece throughout 19th and 20th centuries, including the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, in addition to their citizenships rights. Therefore, for the Turkish-Muslim minority in Greece, practising their minority rights has a long history, but the implementation of these rights has been controversial since 1923, but particularly throughout the last four decades. Regardless of the governments’ political perspectives, the Turkish-Muslim community have for many years been victims of systematic discriminations and oppression. Following its EU membership, it took Greece one decade to announce the equal treatment of minority members before the law. Despite some positive observable changes concerning citizenship rights, the issue regarding the application of minority rights is still far from expectations.

In this talk, Dr. Sebahattin Abdurrahman explained how and why such discriminative policies were applied and how they have been justified. Not only the relationships between the minority community and the governments but also between the minority and the majority communities was the main focus of this talk. - flyer, 24th March 2017