NEWS

Supreme Court bans ‘Turk’ group

Greece’s highest civil court has upheld a decision to ban a Muslim minority association for calling itself «Turkish» on grounds of national security, court sources said yesterday. The decision by the Supreme Court to ban the «Turkish Union of Xanthi,» a Thracian town with a strong Muslim minority, was unanimous and cannot be appealed, the source said. It is expected to be officially announced in coming weeks. According to the source, the court accepted the conclusion of prosecutor Dimitris Linos that the association «served the interest of a foreign country in the attempt to present a Turkish minority as living in Greece.» The decision ends a legal wrangle dating back to 1984, when a local court first banned the group at the request of the Xanthi administrator. Established in 1927, the cultural organization counts some 2,400 members. According to its president, Cetin Mandaci, it had «neither caused nor had» any problems. Thrace is home to a 100,000-strong Muslim, Turkish-speaking community that was often a source of friction between Greece and nearby Turkey. Citing the international Treaty of Lausanne that established modern Turkey, Athens recognizes the community as Muslim but not ethnically Turkish. The 1923 treaty, signed in the aftermath of the 1919-22 Greek-Turkish war, enshrined a massive exchange of populations between the two countries. The Turkish-speaking, Muslim population of Greece and the Greek-speaking, Christian population of Istanbul – which has dwindled dramatically since 1923, especially after a 1955 anti-Greek pogrom – were exempted from the exchange and continued to strain relations between the two countries. (AFP)