Athens, Greece – The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday slammed comments made by Greece’s foreign affairs chief regarding the Greek minority in Imvros (Imbros), Tenedos and Istanbul as “tragicomic,” and went on to accuse Greece of carrying out a “policy of assimilation and repression” on the Muslim minority of Thrace, Western Thracian Muslims or Western Thracian Muslim Turks.
Greece denies the “Turkish” identity of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace region. It prohibits the use of the phrases “Turkish” or “Muslim minority” in education institutions and official documents. In addition, it prohibits the Muslim Turkish minority from performing educational and cultural activities in its own language.
In a strongly worded statement, the Turkish ministry accused Greece of violating treaties and agreements, as well as the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights with regards to its Muslim minority in the northeast of the country. It also repeatedly referred to the community as “Turkish.”
The statement came in response to remarks made by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday, calling on Turkey to fully respect the rights of the Greek minority of Imvros, Tenedos and Istanbul.
“Turkey should finally understand that the Greek minority on Imvros and Tenedos and in Istanbul are not an enemy for the rest of Turkish society. On the contrary, they are an integral part of its historic course and a reference point for the friendship and peaceful co-existence between our peoples,” Dendias was quoted by Greece’s Athens-Macedonian News Agency as saying during an online New Year’s ceremony of the Imvros Residents’ Association.
He added that the association has worked hard for many years to highlight the injustice and suppression that the Greeks of Imvros have been subjected to by Turkish authorities, adding that the foreign ministry will continue its incessant support “in an attempt to invigorate the presence of the islanders in their homeland, with the settlement there of new families.”
“Before making such dire statements, the Greek foreign minister should look in the mirror and sweep the front of his own house first,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry retorted.