A new middle and high school for the Greek community on Gökçeada, a Turkish island off the Aegean coast of the country, will open next month. The school complex marks the first time a Greek high school will open on the island since the 1960s, aiming to attract the Greek community that once had a large presence in the island.
A primary school was opened in 2013, 49 years after it was forced closed due to past state policies that discriminated against minorities. Although it had only four students in its first year, the school aims to boost the Greek presence on the island, which currently heavily populated by Turks and a few Greek families.
Renovation of a building, which will be a middle school and high school, was completed recently and the schools started enrolling students.
Laki Vingas, chairman of an association running the school, said the opening of two schools was a historic development for Turkey and thanked the government for green lighting the project. The land where the school is located was given to the association by the local governorate.
Eight students are expected to enroll this year for both schools, but school administrators expect more families will migrate from nearby Greece to Gökçeada where their ancestors migrated from.
Gökçeada, Turkey's largest island, was once primarily inhabited by Greeks. A decade after its inception, the Republic of Turkey imposed a set of policies targeting minorities in the country. With their properties confiscated through legal amendments restricting property ownership and anti-minority sentiment gaining popularity, Greeks were forced to leave the country. Gökçeada now boasts a mixed population of Turkish and Greek-Turkish citizens with Turkish people the majority of the population.