During the fact-finding mission organized by ABTTF, the members of the European Parliament and representatives of the international non-governmental organizations examined on the ground the problems of the Turkish Minority of Western-Thrace in Greece and collected first-hand evidence.
The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) organized from 19 to 22 September 2016 a fact finding mission to Western Thrace which included the two members of the European Parliament (MEP) and representatives of the international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). During the mission, the delegation observed on the spot the basic and current problems of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace.
The mission delegation was headed by the ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu and composed of Nils Torvalds MEP (ALDE) who belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, Pal Csaky MEP (EPP) who belongs to the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, Marino Busdachin, Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), Miguel Martinez Tomey, Member of the Board of Centre Maurits Coppieters (CMC) and Vice-President of the European Free Alliance (EFA) and Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) which is one of the leading NGOs dealing with human and minority rights in Greece.
On the first day of the fact-finding mission attended also by Mehmet Hüseyin, ABTTF Vice-President, K. Engin Soyyılmaz, ABTTF Head Office Manager and Ali Ali Çavuş, Member of the ABTTF International Affairs and Lobbying Group, the delegation first visited the Elected Mufti of Komotini İbrahim Şerif in his office. Afterwards, the delegation had a joint meeting with the Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority, the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union to hear the problems in the field of education. Later on, the delegation visited the Komotini Turkish Youth Union and obtained information on the historical and legal struggle of the association which was closed down by the Greek authorities on the grounds that its title contained the word “Turkish”. After visiting the Turkish and Greek villages in Komotini, the delegation met with the Xanthi Turkish Union and listened to the legal struggle of the association which was also closed down due to the word “Turkish” in its title and won the case before the European Court of Human Rights after more than twenty years. In the evening, the delegation also came together with the representatives of the Turkish minority media in the premises of the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union.
The fact-finding mission continued on 21 September with the delegates from the international NGOs as the MEPs had to leave due to their heavy agenda. On the second day of the mission, the representatives of UNPO, CMC and GHM first visited the headquarters of the single political party of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace, the Friendship, Equality and Peace (FEP) Party in Komotini, which is also a member of EFA. During the meeting, the FEP Party provided the delegation with detailed information on the official state policy of Greece towards the Turkish minority and underlined this policy containing many problematic issues in itself should be changed urgently. Afterwards, the delegation visited the Turkish minority association, the Sports, Culture and Education Association of Didymoteicho Muslims and the Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Mosque (Beyazıt Mosque), and obtained information on the situation of the persons belonging to the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace who live in the city of Didymoteicho and its neighbourhood.