Unable to gain seat in European Parliament, party in Greece wins support of ethnic Turks in Sunday's vote

Published 29.05.2019 00:14

Despite being unable to gain a seat in the European Parliament, a political party in Greece garnered the support of ethnic Turks living in the country in Sunday's elections, getting one step closer to be the voice of the minority group in Western Thrace.

The Friendship, Equality and Peace Party (FEP) received overwhelming support in two provinces of Greece's Western Thrace region, where the Turkish minority mostly lives, according to unofficial results.

The party ranked first in Rhodopi and Xanthi provinces, receiving 38% and 25% of the votes, respectively.

The party also gathered more votes from elsewhere in Greece, especially in the two largest cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, compared to the 2014 European parliamentary elections.

Still, despite the success, the party was not able to elect a parliamentarian due to the relatively low number of Turkish minority voters; however, it sees the European elections as an opportunity to make the voices of the Turkish minority heard.

Before the elections, the party's leader, Ciğdem Asafoğlu, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that each vote her party received in the polls would send a strong message against the Greek government's policies toward the Turkish minority.

She had said that the votes cast for the FEP will be a proof of Turkish identity in Western Thrace.

Ozan Ahmetoğlu, one of the party's parliamentary hopefuls, had also said that problems of ethnic Turks of Western Thrace have been waiting for solutions for years.

The Western Thrace region is home to a Muslim Turkish minority of around 150,000 and has been suffering from various policies of the Greek government for years, one of the most important of which is the issue of muftis.

The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens between Greece and the Ottoman Empire and was confirmed in 1920. But in 1991, Greece annulled this law and started appointing muftis itself. The majority of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace do not recognize appointed muftis and instead elect their own, who are not recognized by the Greek state.

In a written statement late Monday, the party said the announcement of election results are "very slow," and it also complained that there were flaws and errors in some ballot boxes.

"We want to announce to our people that we have taken the necessary initiatives to recover the mentioned flaws and errors," the statement stressed.

It added that the party came first in Rhodopi and Xanthi and thanked its electorate.

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