Court to rule on Xanthi Muslims

Government officials – with one notable exception – trod with great caution yesterday around the potentially divisive issue of a pending court ruling on what the Muslim minority in Thrace can call itself. Yesterday’s To Vima daily claimed that a Supreme Court judge, Nikolaos Kassavetis, has advised his colleagues that an association of Muslim Greeks in the Thracian town of Xanthi is entitled to use the name Turkish Union of Xanthi. This flies in the face of Greece’s position – citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – that there is no Turkish ethnic minority in Thrace, just Greek Muslims. «We must all await the Supreme Court’s final decision,» Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said, stressing that the government had no business interfering with the justice system. «We must respect the separation of powers,» he said. But a moderate left-wing political group headed by Deputy Interior Minister Nikos Bistis issued a statement calling on the Greek State «to officially recognize minorities’ right to define their ethnic identity.»