Turkey has accused Greece of oppressing the members of its Muslim community in western Thrace, while slamming the European Union for allegedly tolerating the “systematic violation of human rights” in the country.
The statement Wednesday by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which referred to the Muslim minority in Western Thrace as a “Turkish minority,” was issued after authorities reportedly announced they would suspend the operation of four schools in Rodopi region due to a steep decline in the number of pupils.
“With this latest decision, the number of Turkish minority primary schools, which has been 231 until 25 years ago, dropped to 115,” the Turkish ministry said.
“This practice by Greece is a part of the assimilation and oppression efforts towards the Turkish minority in western Thrace,” it said.
“Meanwhile, the EU has been a mere spectator to the systematic violation of human rights in a member country,” it said.
“We ask Greece to cease its systematic policy, which is not compatible with the Lausanne Peace Treaty, hindering the education of the children of the minority, and reopen the schools it has closed,” it said.
The ministry said it would bring the issue to the consideration of international human rights organizations.
Greece does not recognize its Muslim population, located predominantly in Western Thrace, as an ethnically Turkish minority but as a religious one.