3 Turkish lawmakers enter Greek Parliament, will fight for minority rights

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
Istanbul
Published 10.07.2019 00:11

After the results of Sunday's snap national elections, three candidates from the Turkish minority of Western Thrace entered the Greek Parliament, as they stated that they will fight for the rights of the Turkish minority in the country. İlhan Ahmet from the Movement for Change (KINAL) party in the city of Rhodope (Rodop), Hüseyin Zeybek from the radical-left Syriza party and Burhan Baran from KINAL in the city of Xanthi (İskeçe) were elected as MPs.

Baran, 58, a psychiatrist in Xanthi, entered the Greek Parliament for the first time. He pointed out that two Turkish deputies were re-elected from Xanthi after years of absence in the parliament, stressing that this was the success of minority voters. Baran also stated that he would struggle for the solution of the problems faced by the Turkish minority. Ahmet also underscored that he would continue to defend the rights of the Turkish minority in the most effective way in parliament. In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), he said that they have a number of plans and projects for the usurped rights of the minority and that they will make efforts to implement them. 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 does not recognize the appointed muftis and instead elect their own, who are not recognized by the Greek state.

Turkish FM congratulates

new Greek counterpart

Greece's new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the scion of a powerful political family, won a clear victory with his New Democracy (ND) party being able to form the new government by itself. The new cabinet, which was sworn in by Athens Archbishop Ieronymos yesterday, relies heavily on experienced politicians who have served in previous governments, but also includes non-politician technocrats considered experts in their fields.

Mitsotakis appointed Nikos Dendias to the post of foreign minister, who held previous cabinet positions in the ministries of development, defense and public order. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu congratulated his newly appointed Greek counterpart in a phone call, according to diplomatic sources. In a Twitter post, Çavuşoğlu said, "We worked at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe together with him [Dendias] for long years. Now, we will work together with him to further enhance the Turkish-Greek relations and our cooperation." The new finance minister is Christos Staikouras, an economist and engineer who had served as deputy minister in a previous government.

Among other notable choices are the appointments of two former far-right party allies to head development and agriculture.

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