A Greek political party garnering overwhelming support from the minority said Athens does not consult with the ethnic Turkish minority in its northeast on the group’s own affairs.
Greece’s Western Thrace region is home to around 150,000 Muslim Turks.
In last month’s European Parliament elections, The Friendship, Equality, and Peace (FEP) party received overwhelming support in two provinces of Western Thrace.
Çiğdem Asafoğlu the party chief told Anadolu Agency that the government did not accept the FEP’s offer to act as an interlocutor with the group.
Asafoğlu stressed “I hope those who govern this country will see the truth from now on and acknowledge the FEP party’s role,”
Asafoğlu criticized the Greek government’s recent decision to directly appoint muftis- Muslim religious clerics- in Western Thrace.
Muftis in Western Thrace have the power to decide on family and inheritance matters of local Muslims. We were not consulted regarding the decree, which concerns the Turkish minority directly. Asafoğlu said.
She said further “If we were consulted, maybe we could have met at a common ground,”
The FEP party could act as a mediator for dialogue between Athens and the Turkish minority Asafoğlu said.
After its success in the recent European Parliament elections, the FEP party was subject to harsh criticisms.
The Turkish minority is a source of richness for the country and my party was not a threat to Greece, Asafoğlu said.
“They tell us ‘if you are a Turk, go to Turkey’ and I respond to them each time with the same answer: No, I will not, because this place belongs to me as much as it belongs to you,” Asafoğlu said.
Asafoğlu said members of the group wanted to live in Greece as equal citizens with equal rights.
She added “We are not going anywhere, we are in Western Thrace, we are in Greece, but we are Turks and we are trying to contribute to the Greek democracy,”
After the 2019 EP elections, the FEP proved that its success in the previous 2014 EP elections was not a coincidence and showed Greece and Europe that the Turks of Western Thrace would not prefer another party over the FEP if it participates in elections she said.
The map of Greece- showing the provinces won by each party- was in three colors, during the night of the EP elections Asafoğlu said.
She said One was the color of the ruling Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), another one was the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and the third one was the color of the FEP.
The party got a number of supports in Rhodopi and Xanthi, two provinces in the Western Thrace region with a sizeable Turkish minority, hence making the party win the first place at both Rhodopi and Xanthi regions.