Turkish paper sees Greek policy change on Thracian Turks


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 18:27:19 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: Turkish paper sees Greek policy change on Thracian Turks

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Vassilis Alexandris <vassilis@usa.net> (by way of
Greek Helsinki Monitor <office@greekhelsinki.gr>

Turkish paper sees Greek policy change on Thracian Turks



BBC World News
January 25, 2000, Tuesday

Source: 'Milliyet', Istanbul, in Turkish 22 Jan 00 p 18  Let taboos be
broken

Text of report, "Turks not Muslims", by the Turkish newspaper
'Milliyet' on 22nd January - subhead as received

Despite the reaction shown in his own country to the fact that the
Greek Foreign Minister Yeoryios Papandreou had addressed the Turkish
population as "Turks" rather than a "Muslim minority", as the Greek
administration had done for years, he continued in this vein in
Ankara. Before going to Istanbul yesterday [21st January], Papandreou
held a press conference at which our paper was represented by Fikret
Bila and at which some press institutions were also present. At the
press conference, over coffee, when answering a related question, he
used the term "Turks of Western Thrace".

By using the expression "Turks of Western Thrace", Papandreou's words
point to an important change in Athens' policy. Despite knowing their
status and rights according to the Lausanne Treaty, Athens has never
accepted their existence and has always used the term "Muslim
minority".

In answering a question concerning the Turks of Western Thrace,
Papandreou said, "The best way to treat a minority is to make
themselves feel at home. The Turks of Western Thrace are Greek
citizens and have the same rights as all Greek citizens. The same is
true of the Greek minority living in Istanbul. Minorities should be
seen as a richness, not as a threat."

Papandreou stated that improving relations between the two countries
needed time. He added that it was necessary to show there were new
ways of doing this by breaking existing taboos.

Officials said that since [Greek Prime Minister Konstandinos Yeoryiou]
Simitis had come to power, the persecution of Thracian Turks had eased
off. For instance, it is now easier than before for minorities to get
permission to open up their own work places. It has been reported that
the five Turkish deputies elected in Western Thrace have taken the
issue of the rights of these Turks to parliament and have been able to
defend them effectively. It has also been discovered that the topic of
improving the position of Western Thracian Turks was also on the
agenda during Papandreou's talks in Ankara.

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