First of all, let’s make an assessment. For the Turkish nation, the Treaty of Sèvres was death, while the Treaty of Lausanne was revival. The Lausanne is the internationally recognized approval of economic and political independence.
It was the Lausanne that smoothed the path for the republic, modernity, secularism and transition from servitude to citizenship.
As for the articles on the Protection of Minorities in the Treaty of Lausanne with regard to the Turks Living in Greece:
Part I of the Treaty of Lausanne called “Political Provisions” dedicated Articles 37‐44 in Section III to the “Protection of Minorities”. These articles cover the provisions determining the status of non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. In Article 45 of the Treaty, following these articles, it was stipulated that “The rights conferred by the provisions of the present Section on the non-Moslem minorities of Turkey will be similarly conferred by Greece on the Moslem minority in her territory.”
Who Are the Turks Living in Greece?
Turks mostly live in two regions of Greece, namely in Western Thrace and the islands of Rhodes and Kos.
However, what comes to mind first is the Turkish population in Western Thrace. Today, there is also a Turkish population of more than 9,000 living in the Dodecanese, mainly in Rhodes and Kos. When the islands were ceded to Greece in 1947, the Greek authorities did not recognize the “minority” status of our kinsmen on the grounds that the Dodecanese was under Italian rule when the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923.
What are the Rights of the Turks of Western Thrace?
• Right to found, administer and supervise all kinds of social, religious and educational institutions
and to use their own language in these institutions,
• Provision of necessary facilities by Greece for teaching in Turkish, and to make fair use of funds
allocated to education, religion or charity from the state budget, municipal budget or similar
• The Greek government’s undertaking necessary measures to solve the family and personal issues of
the Turks of Western Thrace in compliance with the traditions and customs of this minority.
The Western Thrace Problem Today
Despite attempts to resolve the problem of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace through bilateral agreements between Turkey and Greece following the Treaty of Lausanne, little progress could be achieved.
Greece frequently violated the rights of theTurks of Western Thrace recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne regarding religion, education, social and economic fields and sought ways to keep Western Thrace Turks under pressure.
• The Greek Administration wished the Turks in Western Thrace to use Arabic letters and to fall out of
step with the innovations in Turkey.
• During the Greek Civil War, Western Thrace Turks were persecuted. Starting from 1956, the
pressures on the Turks of Western Thrace have continued to increase.
• The main purpose of Greece’s policy towards the Turks of Western Thrace was to force the Turks in
the region to migrate. In the mean time, free transit visas granted to immigrants by Turkey
opened the way for the evacuation of many villages in Western Thrace.
• Another policy implemented by Greece concerning the Turks of Western Thrace was to make them
“forget their Turkishness”. As stated by the Greek thesis, those in Western Thrace were Muslims
rather than Turks, and they were also referred to as Muslims in the Treaty of Lausanne.
What Are the Insurmountable Problems of Rhodes and Kos Turks?
• Turkish identities are not recognized and they are not permitted to get organized with their cultural
• Turkish children are denied the right to learn Turkish on the basis of bilingualism, at least at primary
• There are barriers to Islamic education.
• Cultural works of art inherited from the Ottoman Turks are left to the destruction of time and are
• Selection of members of the Foundation Property Management Authority is manipulated by
• There exists an atmosphere of hatred and oppression that occasionally comes to the surface.
What are the Rights Arising from International Treaties?
The reason behind the escalating problems of the Turks living in Rhodes and Kos in terms of protecting their cultural identity and rights is the fact that Greece refuses to recognize the rights of Turks arising from international agreements.
Greece stated that the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne did not apply to the Turks living in Rhodes and Kos as the islands were under Italian rule when the treaty was signed in 1923.
Greek thesis contradicts international treaties and provisions including “Protocol No 3 annexed to the Treaty of Athens (1913), Greek Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920), Articles 37-45 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), and Paris Peace Treaty (1947) “.
According to the treaties, the Greeks State should provide the necessary facilities for the Muslim Turkish minority in Greece to freely use their mother tongue, to found, administer and supervise schools, and to receive education in their own language in places where they inhabit. The state should also allocate a share for the Turkish minority from the general and local budgets, and respect the foundations of Muslim Turks.
Since the said obligations cover “all the territories” of Greece, they are in effect even today and still binding and apply to the Dodecanese as well.
The issue of the succession of states in these treaties is specified in Article 15 of the 1978 Vienna Convention, which stipulates that the concept of “territorial status ” includes not only a part of the territory of a state at the time of the treaty, but also the territory acquired by a country afterwards.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also shared its views in 1978 stating that the expression “territorial status” should be understood as the latest situation, not the territory at the time the treaty was signed.
Furthermore, the ICJ emphasized that this expression should be interpreted broadly to include even the locations that would later be considered as part of that country’s territory.
Call to Greece
According to the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations, and the Greek Constitution, Greece has obligations to protect and enhance the cultural rights of all races living in Greece, as well as those of Greek descent.
Within this context, Greece should also fulfill the obligations it has undertaken for the Muslim Turks in Rhodes and Kos in accordance with the principle of succession of states and the opinions expressed by the ICJ.
We call on Greece to accept the cultural identity of the Turks living in Rhodes and Kos and to recognize the right to education in their mother tongue.
These are innate rights of people.