Turks of Western Thrace

Turks of Western Thrace

Turks ( _tr. Batı Trakya Türkleri) form an officially unrecognized minority group in Greece, traditionally settled in the northeastern region of Thrace, also known as "Greek" or "Western Thrace" to distinguish it from the parts of Thrace which belong to Bulgaria and Turkey. According to official sources, they number approximately 50,000, out of the approximately 98,000 members of the only officially recognized minority in Greece, the Muslims of Thrace, recorded in the 1991 census. [ [http://www.hri.org/MFA/foreign/musmingr.htm Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών, Υπηρεσία Ενημέρωσης: Μουσουλμάνικη μειονότητα Θράκης] and [http://www.waterinfo.gr/eedyp/papers/apografi.html Ελληνική Επιτροπή για τη διαχείρηση των υδατικών πόρων: Στοιχεία από την πρόσφατη απογραφή του πληθυσμού] ] The size of the Muslim minority as a whole, as well as the Turkish-identifying component, may be slightly different according to various NGOs. According to Human Rights Watch, the Muslim minority numbers between 80,000 and 120,000 (1999), as the organization tends to attribute "Turkishness" to the entire minority. [ [http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/g/greece/greec991.pdf Human Rights Watch document 1999, page 2, footnote] ] [ [http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/g/greece/greec991.pdf Human Rights Wacth document 1999, page 11 "While it is indeed true that the minority is mixed on an ethnolinguistic basis, being made up of ethnic Turks, Pomaks (Muslim Slavs who speak a Bulgarian dialect), and Romas, the group overwhelmingly identifies itself as Turkish" and page 11 footnote: 65-75% "real" Turkish, 15-25% Turkish Pomaks, 5-10% Turkish Roma] ]

Within the larger definition of the Muslim minority, the Turks of Western Thrace were exempted from the 1922-1923 Exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey and were granted special rights within the framework of Lausanne Treaty, such as education in the Turkish language.

Within Turkey, they are called "Batı Trakyalı" ("Western Thracians") when referring specifically to their provenance, or more generally "Trakyalı" ("Thracians"), as they are considered part of a single cultural aire alongside the native inhabitants of Turkey's East Thrace region. Outside Thrace, many are also settled in or around İstanbul or İzmir or in the western Anatolian countryside, and were either born in Greece or can trace close ties there. A non-negligible number of Turks of Western Thrace also live as immigrants in Germany and other European countries.


In 1990 a new electoral law was introduced in Greece, which set a threshold of at least 3% of the nationwide vote for a party to be represented in the parliament. The participation of members of the Muslim minority in the Hellenic Parliament is guaranteed as all political parties have Muslim candidates from Thrace. Moreover, 0.5% of places in Greek universities are reserved for members of the Muslim minority under an affirmative action plan.

Officially however, the Greek government classifies those Turks as just a part of the entire minority. The Turks compose about 50% of the minority. The other 25% are the Pomacs, a local Muslim tribe of Balkan origin while the remaining 15% are Roma. This characterization was mutually accepted by both sides in the Treaty of Lausanne.

According to the Greek government, between 1955 and 1998, approximately 60,000 individuals were deprived of their citizenship under Article 19. Of these 60,000, approximately 7,182 lost their citizenship between 1981 and 1997. [http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/greece/Greec991-06.htm]

Notable Turks of Western Thrace

* Şerif Gören: Winner of 1982 Palme d'Or in Cannes Film Festival
* Mustafa Hüseyinoğlu: Actor, plays as Blane Whittaker in CBBC series M.I.High

ee also

* Western Thrace
* Muslim minority of Greece
* Republic of Gumuljina
* Turks of the Dodecanese


External links

* [http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/g/greece/greece908.pdf Human Rights Watch document: "Destroying ethnic identity - The Turks of Greece", August 1990]
* [http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/g/greece/greece924.pdf Human Rights Watch document: "Greece - Improvements for Turkish minority - Problems remain", April 1992]
* [http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/g/greece/greec991.pdf Human Rights Watch document: "Greece - The Turks of Western Thrace", January 1999]
* [http://www.abttf.com Umbrella organisation of Western Thrace Turks and UN-ECOSOC member: "Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe"]

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