Turks of Western Thrace
According to the Greek census of 1991, there were approximately 50,000 Turks in Western Thrace, out of the approximately 98,000 strong Muslim minority of Greece. Other sources estimate the size of the Turkish community between 120,000 and 130,000. The Turks of Western Thrace are not to be confused with Pomaks or Muslim Roma people of the same region, counting 35% and 15% of the Muslim minority respectfully.
In response to the declaration of independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983, the Greek government adopted a policy of referring to the Turkish community as Greek Muslims or Hellene Muslims, and does not recognise a separate Turkish minority in Western Thrace. Nevertheless, the fundamental rights of this community are enshrined in the Greek constitution and the Treaty of Lausanne.
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Culture
- 4 Obligations of the Treaty of Lausanne
- 5 Politics
- 6 Human rights issues
- 7 Migration
- 8 Notable people
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
Western Thrace became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1354 and remained in Ottoman control until 1913. At this year, the Turkish community outnumbered the Greek community four to one and owned close to 84% of the land. By August 31, 1913 the Turks of Western Thrace had formed the first 'Turkish republic', the Provisional Government of Western Thrace. However, it was taken over by the Kingdom of Bulgaria on October 25, 1913, which had been victorious in the First Balkan War. France occupied the area at the end of the First World War, following the defeat of Bulgaria, and it passed into Greek hands under the Treaty of Sèvres in August 1920. Under a protocol of the same year, the Turks of Western Thrace were exempted from the 1922-1923 exchange of populations agreement between Greece and Turkey and were granted rights within the framework of the Lausanne Treaty. However, since 1923, between 300,000 to 400,000 Turks have left Western Thrace most of which have immigrated to Turkey.
A number of estimates and censuses during the 1912-1920 period gave the following results about the ethnic distribution of the area that would became known as Western Thrace:
|General Distribution of Population in Western Thrace (1912-1920)|
The Pomak population depending on the source was sometimes counted together with the Turks according to the Ottoman system of classifying people depending on religion, while in other occasions was specified separately. On the other hand, according to the Bulgarian view, they are considered "Bulgarian Muslims" and an integral part of the Bulgarian nation.
According to the Turkish thesis, as it was presented at Lausanne Peace Conference (1920), the general distribution of population in Western Thrace was as follows:
|Turkish thesis on the General Distribution of Population in Western Thrace in 1920 (before the population exchange)|
|Komotini||59,967 (74,8%)||8,834 (11%)||9,997 (12,5%)||1,007 (1,3%)||360 (0,4%)||80,165 (100%)|
|Alexandroupolis||11,744 (42,7%)||4,800 (17,5%)||10,227 (37,2%)||253 (0,9%)||449 (1,6%)||27,473 (100%)|
|Soufli||14,736 (46,4%)||11,542 (36,3%)||5,490 (17,3%)||-||-||31,768 (100%)|
|Xanthi||42,671 (81,7%)||8,728 (16,7%)||522 (1%)||220 (0,4%)||114 (0,2%)||52,255 (100%)|
|Total||129,120 (67,4%)||33,910 (17,7%)||26,266 (13,7%)||1,480 (0,8%)||923 (0,5%)||191,699 (100%)|
During Ottoman rule before 1912, Greeks constituted a minority in the region of Western Thrace. After the Balkan Wars and World War I the demography of the region was changed. While groups such as the Turks and Bulgarians decreased, the Greek population increased by the resettlement of ten thousands of Greek refugees from other areas of the Ottoman Empire, after the flight of the Greek refugees from Asia Minor, as a result of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and the subsequent population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Of all Greek Asia Minor refugees (578,824 individuals), 31% of them were resettled in Western Thrace. The Greek government's reason to settle the refugees in this region was to strengthen the Greek presence in the newly acquired provinces and the homogenization of the population. The Greek government especially resettled the refugees in Komotini, Xanthi and Sapes regions where the majority of Muslim Turks lived.
|General Distribution of Population in Western Thrace in 1923, presented by the Greek delegation in Laussane (after the relocation of Asia Minor refugees)|
|Districts||Total||Total Greeks||Local Greeks||Relocated Greek refugees||Turks||Bulgarians||Jews||Armenians|
|Total||314,235||199,664 (63,5%)||94,226 (30,0%)||105,438 (33,6%)||95,407 (30,4%)||16,828 (5,4%)||1,112 (0,4%)||1,183 (0,4%)|
The Turkish community has a strong presence in Komotini (Turkish: Gümülcine) and Xanthi (Turkish: İskeçe) departments, while it is scarcely present in the Evros prefecture, the closest to the international boundary with Turkey. According to estimates, Muslims as a whole, represented 36-38% of the Rhodopi Department population, 12-24% in the Xanthi Department and less than 5% in the Evros Department.
According to Ethnologue, in 1976 the Turkish language was spoken by 128,000 people in Greece, the majority of which are located in Western Thrace. However, the Greek language is also widely used.
|The Muslims of Western Thrace between 1919-1995|
|Census/ statistics||Total||Turkish speaking||Pomaks||Roma||Others|
|Bulgarian 1919 (A)||96,908||79,539||17,369||-||-|
|Bulgarian 1919 (B)||98.035||77,726||20,309||-||-|
|Greek 1920 3rd version||100,491||93,522||6,969||-||-|
|Greek official 1928||102,621||84,585||16,740||<1,023||?|
|Greek official 1951||105,092||85,945||18,664||303||180|
|Turkish MFA (1995)||150,000||?||?||?||?|
|Greek MFA (1995)||120,000||~60,000||~42,000||~18,000||-|
Obligations of the Treaty of Lausanne
Article 37 through 45 of the Lausanne Treaty set forth the obligations of the Greek and Turkish governments to protect the Turkish and Greek minorities in their territories. Each country agreed to provide the following:
- Protection of life and liberty without regard to birth, nationality, language, race or religion
- Free exercise of religion
- Freedom of movement and of emigration
- Equality before the law
- The same civil and political rights enjoyed by the majority
- Free use of language in private, in commerce, in religion, the press and publications, at public meetings and in the courts
- The right to establish and control charitable, religious and social institutions and schools
- Primary schools in which instruction is given in both languages
- Full protection for religious establishments and pious foundation
The Lausanne Treaty defined the rights of the Muslim communities in Western Thrace, on the basis of religion, not ethnicity, as well as maintained a balance between the minority communities of both countries (Turks in Greece and Greeks in Turkey) on reciprocal obligations toward each of those minorities. The Treaty contained specific obligations for their cultural and religious rights. However, at no time since 1923 did Greek officials instigate, support, or undertake measures against the Muslims of Western Thrace similar to those undertaken by successive Turkish Governments against the Greek minority in Turkey (like forced labor battalions, the Istanbul pogrom), a minority that is nearly eliminated today (70,000 in 1923 to 3,000 in 2000).
Members of the Greek Parliament
In 1990 a new electoral law was introduced in Greece, which set a threshold of at least 3% of the nationwide vote for a party to be represented in the parliament, independent Turkish MPs were thus barred from election at the 1993 elections. The participation of members of the minority in the Hellenic Parliament is since then assured by Turkish candidats from nationwide political parties, and the Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace, which succeeded the Independent Muslim List in 1991, practically disappeared from the electoral scene.
|Turkish MPs from Rhodopi and Xanthi|
|election||elected Turkish MPs|
|1989 (June)||Sadık Ahmet (Independent Muslim List)|
|1989 (November)||Ismail Molla (Independent Muslim List)|
|1990||Sadık Ahmet, Ahmet Faikoğlu (Independent Muslim List)|
|1996||Mustafa Mustafa (Synaspismós), Galip Galip (PASOK, architect), Birol Akifoglu (ND)|
|2000||Galip Galip (PASOK), Mehmet Ahmet (PASOK; Mehmet Ahmet, already elected in 1981, was not directly elected in 2000, but he acted so that the elected MP, Hrissa Manolia, was forced to abandon her seat because she had not relinquished her other political mandate at the local level)|
|2004||İlhan Ahmet (New Democracy, lawyer)|
|2007||Çetin Mandacı (PASOK), Ahmet Hacıosman (PASOK)|
|2009||Çetin Mandacı (PASOK), Ahmet Hacıosman (PASOK)|
|2012||Ayhan Karayusuf (Syriza, dentist), Hüseyin Zeybek (Syriza, pharmacist), Ahmet Hacıosman (PASOK)|
Greek legislative election, 2009
There are presently two Turkish MPs from Western Thrace, both affiliated to the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Çetin Mandacı (Xanthi) and Ahmet Hacıosman (Rhodope), former president (1999–2007) of the Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace created by former (1989) MP Sadık Ahmet in 1991.
At least 14 candidates from the Turkish minority have been nominated, mainly in Rhodope and Xanthi.
For New Democracy, former MP (2004–2007) İlhan Ahmet and Ahmet Ahmet are candidates in Rhodope, and in Xanthi Aysel Zeybek and Ahmet Budur. Zeybek had lost her Greek citizenship under Article 19 of the Greek Citizenship Code, which allowed of its revocation for non-ethnic Greeks who left the country. After a lengthy legal battle, she finally won her case with a second appeal before the European Court of Human Rights and re-secured her Greek citizenship in 2001.
For PASOK, Çetin Mandacı and Seval Osmanoğlu are among the 5 candidates in Xanthi, Rıdvan Kocamümin and Ahmet Hacıosman among the 5 in Rhodope.
For the KKE (which presently has no MP in Xanthi or Rhodope), Faik Faik in Rhodope and Hasan Efendi in Xanthi.
For SYRIZA (which presently has no MP in Xanthi or Rhodope), Hasan Malkoç and Hüseyin Zeybek are candidates in Xanthi, and in Rhodope Dr. Mustafa Mustafa (former MP) and Celalettin Yurtçu.
Human rights issues
|This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2010)|
According to the former Article 19 of the 1955 Citizenship Law (No. 3370), a person of non-Greek ethnic origin leaving Greece without the intention of returning may be declared as having lost Greek nationality. According to the Greek government, between 1955 and 1998, approximately 60,000 Greek Muslim individuals, predominantly Turkish, were deprived of their citizenship under Article 19. Of these 60,000, approximately 7,182 lost their citizenship between 1981 and 1997. The application of this law to the Turks of Western Thrace was a retaliatory measure in response to the devastating state-sponsored pogrom which targeted the Greeks of Istanbul in September 1955. The pogrom precipitated an exodus of ethnic Greeks from Turkey. Article 19 was repealed in 1998, though not retroactively.
Since the Treaty of Lausanne used the criterion of religion to refer to the ethnic communities, Greek Government spokesmen have usually insisted that the basis of identification is religious and not ethnic (or national). Thus Greek officials refer to the Muslim minority in Greece, but deny the existence of a Turkish minority. This policy was introduced immediately after the illegal "declaration of independence" of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983 on lands that once had an 82% Greek majority before becoming refugees during the Turkish invasion in 1974. The Greek government declared that it was a measure to avert the possibility of Greek Thrace becoming a "second Cyprus" sometime in the future
Greek courts have also outlawed the use of the word 'Turkish' to describe the Turkish community. In 1988, the Greek High Court affirmed a 1986 decision of the Court of Appeals of Thrace in which the Union of Turkish Associations of Western Thrace was ordered closed. The court held that the use of the word 'Turkish' referred to citizens of Turkey, and could not be used to describe citizens of Greece; the use of the word 'Turkish' to describe Greek Muslims was held to endanger public order. This led to about 10,000 people demonstrating against the decision in Western Thrace. According to members of the Turkish minority, it was the first time ethnic Turks had taken to the streets.
Freedom of expression
More than 10 newspapers are issued in the Turkish language. According to some sources, newspapers, magazines and books published in Turkey are not allowed entry into Western Thrace, and Turkish television and radio stations are sometimes jammed. According to other sources the minority has full and independent access to its own newspapers radio, television, and other written media coming from Turkey, regardless of their content.
According to the Lausanne Treaty, the Turkish minority is entitled to freedom of religion and to the right to control charitable and religious institutions. However, the Turkish community believes that these international law guarantees have been violated by the Greek government by denying permission to repair or rebuild old mosques or to build new mosques, by denying the right to choose the muftis (this chief religious officers), and by efforts to control the Turkish communities charitable foundations. According to another source, more than 5 new mosques are being built in the prefecture of Xanthi alone and 19 new mosques are being built in the prefecture of Rhodope alone, while in the same prefecture the number of mosques exceeds 160.
According to a report by a local organization there have been frequent (six in 2010 and three in the first months of 2011) attacks against the private and public property of Turks in Western Thrace. Among the recent incidents are three in 2010 (in Kahveci, Kırmahalle, Popos and Ifestos at Komotini) where attackers desecrated Turkish cemeteries and broke tombstones. There were also attacks against mosques, Turkish associations and Turkish consulates, attackers used methods like throwing stones, molotov bombs and damaging buildings.
Between 300,000 to 400,000 Turks have left Western Thrace since 1923; most of them immigrated to Turkey. Western Thrace Turks have also immigrated to Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and Italy. Thus, overall there are an estimated 1 million Turks whose roots are from Western Thrace.
There are some members of the Greek Muslim community among the some 350,000 Greeks living in Germany who are Turks or who espouse a Turkish identity. The majority of Turks immigrated from Western Thrace. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Thracian tobacco industry was affected by a severe crisis and many tobacco growers lost their income. This resulted in many Turks leaving their homes and immigrating to Germany with estimates suggesting that today there are now between 12,000 and 25,000 residing in Germany.
There is an estimated 600-700 Western Thrace Turks living in London although this does not include those who are British born. The total number living outside of London is unknown. However even their small number, Western Thrace Turks in the UK have their own community (Association of Western Thrace Turks UK)
- Sadık Ahmet, Doctor
- Cavit Çağlar
- Nimet Çalapala
- Turgay Cin
- Şerif Gören, Winner of 1982 Palme d'Or in Cannes Film Festival
- Yahya Gür
- Ahmet Hacıosman, Politician
- Hasan Hatipoğlu
- Mustafa Hüseyinoğlu, Actor
- Hadi Hüsman
- Mehmet Esat İleri, Politician
- Çetin Mandacı, Politician
- Mustafa Mustafa, Politician
- Hüseyin Mümin, Footballer
- 1990 Komotini events
- Cretan Turks
- Turks of the Dodecanese
- Western Thrace
- Provisional Government of Western Thrace
- Greeks in Turkey
- Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "The Muslim Minority of Greek Thrace". Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Whitman 1990, i.
- Levinson 1998, 41.
- Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών, Υπηρεσία Ενημέρωσης: Μουσουλμάνικη μειονότητα Θράκης
- Greek Helsinki Monitor: Religious freedom in Greece
- Ataöv 1992, 90.
- Panayi 1999, 51.
- Hirschon 2003, 107.
- Whitman 1990, 2.
- Vemund Aarbakke (2000). The muslim minority of Greek Thrace. Phd thesis / University of Bergen.
- Öksüz 2004, 255.
- Huseyinoglu, Ali (2012). "The Development of Minority Education at the South - e aste rnmost Corner o f the E U: The Case of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace, Greece". University of Sussex. pp. 121–122. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Pentzopoulos, Dimitri (2002). The Balkan exchange of minorities and its impact on Greece ([2. impr.]. ed.). London: Hurst. p. 11. ISBN 9781850657026. "led directly to the flight of the Greek refugges from Asia Minor, the compulsory exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey"
- Huseyinoglu, Ali (2012). "The Development of Minority Education at the South - e aste rnmost Corner o f the E U: The Case of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace, Greece". University of Sussex. p. 123. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Kotzamanis, Byron; Agorastakis, Michalis (August 25–29, 2008). "La minorité musulmane en Thrace : La mesure du caché". colloque Démographie et cultures (in French) (Québec: Association Internationale des Démographes de Langue Française (AIDELF)). Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- Ethnologue. "Languages of Greece". Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Old and New Islam in Greece: From Historical Minorities to Immigrant Newcomers, Konstantinos Tsitselikis, page 568-569, 2012
- Whitman 1990, 5-6.
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe: p. 8-9
- Hersant, Jeanne; Yatropoulos, Nepheli (August 2009). "Mobilisation identitaire et représentation politique des ‘Turcs’ en Thrace occidentale : les élections législatives grecques de mars 2004". European Journal of Turkish Studies (in French). Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- son of the former MP Hajihafuz Ali Galip Sampachedin
- Çetin Mandacı, who was running as an independent after having been expelled with other anti-debt plan dissenters from the PASOK, was not reelected
- Βιογραφικά - ΟΣΜΑΝ ΑΧΜΕΤ ΧΑΤΖΗ, ΒΟΥΛΕΥΤΗΣ ΡΟΔΟΠΗΣ, ΣΗΜΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΝΕΛΛΗΝΙΟΥ ΣΟΣΙΑΛΙΣΤΙΚΟΥ ΚΙΝΗΜΑΤΟΣ, Βουλή των Ελλήνων, , accessed on September 24, 2009
- Chris Loutradis, Turkish candidate stirs debate in Greek polls, Hürriyet Daily News, September 22, 2009, accessed on September 24, 2009
- candidates for the Rodopi circonscription, website of New Democracy, accessed on September 24, 2009
- candidates for the Xanthi circonscription, website of New Democracy, accessed on September 24, 2009
- Harassment of Aysel Zeybek and The Responses, The Balkan Human Rights Web Pages, accessed on September 24, 2009
- (Turkish) Hasan Hacı, PASOK, Türk milletvekili adaylarını, Rodop Rüzgârı, September 10, 2009, accessed on September 25, 2009
- ΞΑΝΘΗΣ Νομός ΞΑΝΘΗΣ - Υποψήφιοι
- ΡΟΔΟΠΗΣ Νομός ΡΟΔΟΠΗΣ - Υποψήφιοι
- Hasan Haci, Turkish minority vote worth its weight in gold in Greek elections, Today's Zaman, October 3, 2009
- Human Rights Watch, Greece - The Turks of Western Thrace, January 1999
- Anagnostou, Dia (2005). "Deepening Democracy or Defending the Nation? The Europeanisation of minority Rights and Greek Citizenship". West European Politics 28 (2): 338.
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe: p. 6
- Whitman 1990, 14.
- Whitman 1990, 15.
- Madianou 2005, 34.
- "UN Security Council Resolution 541".
- Antoniou, Dimitris (2005). "Western Thracian Muslims in Athens". Balkanologie IX (1-2).
- Whitman 1990, 16.
- Whitman 1990, 17.
- Karpat 2002, 537.
- Whitman 1990, 24.
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe: p. 10, 16
- Whitman 1990, 26.
- Whitman 1990, 27.
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe: p. 10, 13
- Parallel Report by Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe on the 2010 Human Rights Report: Greece 8 April 2011 
- Vandals desecrate Turkish graves in Greece, police say Hürriyet Daily News, 15 August 2010 
- Muslim Cemetery in Komotini Vandalized Greek Reporter, 15 August 2010 
- Desecrations of cemeteries are hate crimes that exacerbate intolerance Council of Europe, 30 December 2010 
- July–December, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Greece, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 
- Kultur. "BATI TRAKYA TÜRK EDEBİYATI". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Şentürk 2008, 420.
- Witten Batı Trakya Türkleri Yardımlaşma ve Dayanışma Derneği. "Batı Trakya`da "Aynı Gökyüzü Altında" bir Güldeste". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Westerlund & Svanberg 1999, 320-321.
- Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly 2007, 118.
- Clogg 2002, 84.
- International Assembly of Western Thrace Turks. "POLITICAL AND CIVIL ORGANISATION COMMISSION". Retrieved 2010-05-19.
- Şentürk 2008, 427.
- Official website of Association of Western Thrace Turks in UK
- Ataöv, Türkkaya (1992), THE ETHNIC TURKISH MINORITY IN WESTERN THRACE, GREECE, http://dergiler.ankara.edu.tr/: The Turkish Yearbook of International Relations
- Cin, Turgay (2009), The Current Problems of the Turks of Western Thrace in Greece as a Member of the European Union, http://eab.ege.edu.tr: Ege Academic Review
- Clogg, Richard (2002), Minorities in Greece: Aspects of a Plural Society, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, ISBN 1-85065-705-X.
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. "Turkish Minority in Western Thrace" (PDF). Briefing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
- Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly (2007), Parliamentary Assembly: Working Papers 2007 Ordinary Session 22–26 January 2007, Council of Europe, ISBN 92-871-6191-7.
- Hirschon, Renée (2003), Crossing the Aegean: An Appraisal of the 1923 Compulsory Population Exchange Between Greece and Turkey, Berghahn Books, ISBN 1-57181-562-7.
- Karpat, Kemal (2002), Studies on Ottoman Social and Political History: Selected Articles and Essays, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-12101-3.
- Karpat, Kemal H. (2004), Studies on Turkish Politics and Society: Selected Articles and Essays:Volume 94 of Social, economic, and political studies of the Middle East, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-13322-4.
- Madianou, Mirca (2005), Mediating the nation: news, audiences and the politics of identity, Routledge Cavendish, ISBN 1-84472-028-4.
- Minahan, James (2002), Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-313-32384-4.
- Levinson, David (1998), Ethnic groups worldwide: a ready reference handbook, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 978-1-57356-019-1.
- Lytra, Vally (2007), Play frames and social identities: contact encounters in a Greek primary school, John Benjamins Publishing Company, ISBN 90-272-5407-9.
- Öksüz, Hikmet (2004), The Reasons for Immigration from Western Thrace to Turkey (1923-1950), http://www.azinlikca.net/: Turkish Review of Balkan Studies
- Panayi, Panikos (1999), Outsiders: a history of European minorities, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 1-57356-019-7.
- Şentürk, Cem (2008), West Thrace Turkish's Immigration to Europe, http://www.sosyalarastirmalar.com: The Journal Of International Social Research
- Sugar, Peter F. (1983), Southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule, 1354-1804, University of Washington Press, ISBN 0-295-96033-7.
- Westerlund, David; Svanberg, Ingvar (1999), Islam Outside the Arab World, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0-312-22691-8.
- Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (2009), Western Thrace Turkish Minority, http://www.pekem.org/: Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority
- Whitman, Lois (1990), Destroying ethnic identity: the Turks of Greece, Human Rights Watch, ISBN 0-929692-70-5.
- Human Rights Watch document: Destroying ethnic identity - The Turks of Greece, August 1990
- Human Rights Watch document: Greece - Improvements for Turkish minority - Problems remain, April 1992
- Human Rights Watch document: Greece - The Turks of Western Thrace, January 1999
- Umbrella organisation of Western Thrace Turks and UN-ECOSOC member: Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe