No: 248, 4 August 2022, Press Release Regarding the Act on the Muftis in Western Thrace

Republic Of Türkiye Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 04.08.2022

Greece once again violated the rights and freedoms of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace, guaranteed by international agreements, particularly the Lausanne Peace Treaty, through an act that it has enacted recently regarding the Muftis in Western Thrace.

This legal act which has been drafted without any consultation with the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace, once again disregards the elected Muftis of the Turkish Minority, thus their will and religious freedom. In this framework, we fully support the statement made by the Consultative Board of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace on 3 August 2022, reflecting the rightful reaction of our kinsmen.

Article 40 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty grants the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace the right to establish, manage and control its own religious, educational, charitable and social institutions. Greece’s violation of this right against its contractual obligations had also been recorded by the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in the past.

While Greece should provide the Turkish Minority with the necessary support and facilitation in electing Muftis, administering and structuring Muftiates, its attempts to bring the Muftiates under its own control, against the will of the Minority, are unacceptable.

Greece continues to violate the religious rights and freedom of our kinsmen, guaranteed by international agreements, through the abovementioned recent act. In the meantime, Greece attempts to transform the Mufti institution in Western Thrace into a structure under full government control. Türkiye does not interfere with the functioning of the religious institutions of the non-Muslim minorities in its country and the election of their leaders through such repressive laws and practices.

We once again invite Greece to respect international law, fulfill its contractual obligations under the Lausanne Peace Treaty and other relevant agreements, and put an end to its policies pressuring and intimidating the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace.

As has been the case so far, we will continue to follow closely the rights and freedoms of our kinsmen.

Atatürk

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