Greece: Improvements for Turkish Minority

Problems Remain

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The Greek government has taken significant steps to improve conditions for the Turkish minority in Western Thrace during the past year. Ethnic Turks can now buy and sell houses and land, repair houses and mosques, obtain car, truck and tractor licenses, and open coffee houses and machine and electrical shops. None of these was possible in past years, as Helsinki Watch reported in Destroying Ethnic Identity: The Turks of Greece in August 1990. But the Turkish community reports that important problems remain, chiefly involving education; expropriation of land; the selection of muftis, the religious leaders of the Moslem minority; and control of the wakfs (charitable foundations). Moreover, the Greek government continued during 1991 to deprive hundreds of ethnic Turks of their Greek citizenship. In addition, police harassment of ethnic Turks continues, although to a lesser degree. Associations and schools still cannot call themselves "Turkish," Turkish language newspapers, books and magazines cannot be brought from Turkey into Western Thrace, and Turkish television is still jammed. Moreover, ethnic Turks are discriminated against in employment and in the provision of services.

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