Ankara: Obsession with the Aegean, remembered Lausanne and “warms up” the issue of Thrace

In a really difficult moment for Turkey’s foreign policy and while T. Erdogan’s ambitious goals are in the air, Ankara, on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, raises not only the issue of demilitarization of islands but also the issue of Thrace.

Nikos Meletis

The Turkish leader himself, in his message yesterday on the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, the revision of which he requested five years ago, chose to refer exclusively to Greece, accusing our country of being the one violating the Treaty.

“Recently, the terms enshrined in the treaty and especially the rights of the Turkish Minority have been consciously ignored or eroded mainly by Greece. It is not possible for our country to accept this situation which is not consistent with good neighborly relations and the principle of loyalty to the treaty” he said characteristically while making special reference to the issues that Turkey considers as its “gains” from the Treaty.

“With the Peace Treaty of Lausanne, our land borders were drawn, the capitulations were abolished, the rights of the Turkish Minority that remained in Greece were guaranteed and the civilian status of the Greek islands near our coasts was guaranteed.”

The ground for the reinstatement of the minority issue was laid two days ago by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in a statement accused Greece of violating its obligations towards the “Turkish” minority of Thrace, as it called it, on the occasion of the suspension of 4 minority primary schools (which was done as for non-minority elementary schools that did not complete the necessary number of students).

The answer, of course, from the representative of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Al. Papaioannou was mouth-watering as she quoted specific data on the number of schools in Thrace and Istanbul, Imbro Tenedo, which of course are overwhelming for Turkey and proof of the treatment she accorded to the Greek minority in Turkey while numerically the Muslim minority in Thrace is prospering .

In Thrace, 99 Primary schools for the minority will operate next school year, while 3 will operate in Istanbul, 1 in Imbro and none in Tenedos.

“The Muslim Minority in Thrace numbers approximately 120,000 members. The Greek Minority in Turkey does not exceed 3,000 people, while at the time of Lausanne they were the same number. Unfortunately for Turkey, the numbers speak their own undeniable truth about who respects and implements the Treaty of Lausanne,” the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out in response to Turkish objections.

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Turkey is preparing the ground in order to cause disturbance in Thrace as well as to find an opportunity to slander our country for violating the rights of the Muslim minority, as in the next period the Turkish Consulate and the extremists of the minority will attempt to “elect” him successor of the pseudo mufti of Xanthi, Ahmet Mete.

At his funeral, Turkey was represented by the president of the National Assembly, Sedop, while the entire Turkish political leadership and Erdogan himself sent messages, while at the events for the 27th anniversary of the death of Ahmet Sadik, Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yavuz Selim Kiran, was in Thrace yesterday. in an attempt to animate and encourage the extreme elements of the minority.

Athens had planned and submitted to the Parliament the new law for the modernization of Muftis, which provides for a procedure independent of the State for the nomination of the Mufti, where the central role is taken by the overseer and an electoral body of 33 representatives of the minority who are selected by public lottery among teachers in the Introductory Direction of Muslim Studies or in the Muslim Seminaries of Thrace, the Imams, the Hierarchs of the Islamic Religion and the eminent theologians.

The minority party KIEF and other actors have already expressed opposition to the bill, as the goal is for the Mufti to remain “divided” and to promote the process of universal (?) voting for his election, a process that leads to the emergence of a national religious leader, controlled by the Turkish State and parastate. As there is a pending appointment of Muftis in the two Muftias in Thrace, the extremists do not want the process to proceed with this new system that modernizes the Muftias.

Very soon, probably in September, an attempt will be made to organize a vote in Xanthi to elect Ahmet Mete’s successor, and this process, which is apparently not recognized by the Greek State, will give Turkey the reason it is looking for to start a new campaign against it our country.

But Turkey, despite the apparent calm in the Aegean, has far from abandoned the issue of the demilitarization of the islands and the questioning of Greek sovereignty over islands and islets. Mr. Erdogan referred to demilitarization as a condition of Lausanne which Greece is violating, while Mr. Cavusoglu a few days ago rejected Greece’s complaints about overflights of islands by the Turkish air force with the claim that there are islands which “Greece says that are hers, islands and islets whose ownership status is not clear and have not been ceded by agreements”, while clarifying that Turkey will continue to violate Greece’s airspace, as it recognizes 6 miles of airspace for Greece and not 10 .

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It is, however, indicative of the intentions, keeping Greece at the top of Turkey’s agenda at a time when Tayyip Erdogan is facing serious challenges in his critical choices.

The famous agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain, which the Turkish leader reaped, is being tested even before the first steps for its implementation have begun.

The tripartite meeting in Tehran of the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran, causes serious concern about the credibility of Turkey as an ally, with the German foreign minister Anne Burbock (who will be in Athens tomorrow for a meeting with N. Dendias ), to speak of a “photo (Erdogan-Putin-Raisi) challenge to NATO”.

And while all international actors from Washington, to Damascus, Moscow and Tehran, as well as Israel are warning Erdogan not to attempt a new invasion of Northern Syria, Ankara had an unpleasant surprise. The Command of the American Forces in the Middle East (US Central Command-CENTCOM) in a post expressed its sadness for the murder of the Kurdish origin Salva Yusuk, commander of the SDF, who, as it says, contributed a lot to the fight against ISIS.

Yusuk was murdered along with two other SDF fighters by a Turkish drone attack as she was classified as a terrorist by Turkey.

But also in the matter of the Memorandum signed by Erdogan with Sweden and Finland for their accession to NATO, serious problems have already appeared, as Sweden of course refuses to extradite the Turkish and Kurdish anti-regime members requested by Ankara, while it has not banned friendly public events adjacent to the PKK as Ankara has demanded.

In this setting, it will be very interesting what Turkey will do, as NATO has requested an acceleration of the ratification by the National Parliaments of the two Nordic countries’ accession to NATO, and a new delay in the involvement in this process is obvious that it will cause serious reactions from Washington but also the other countries of the Alliance.

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