No: 235, 1 July 2021, Press Release Regarding The Rejection Of The Re-registration Application Of The Turkish Union Of Xanthi By The Supreme Court Of Greece

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 01.07.2021

The signboard of the Turkish Union of Xanthi, the oldest non-governmental organization of the Turkish Muslim Minority in Western Thrace, was taken down in 1983 due to the word “Turkish” in its name and the association was banned in 1986 by a court decision.

As a result of the legal struggle carried out by the Turkish Union of Xanthi, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled in 2008 that the right to freedom of association was violated by Greece, and has invited the country to make the necessary arrangements for the registration of the association.

In this context, within the scope of the execution of the ECtHR judgement, a law was adopted in Greece in 2017, allowing the banned associations to apply for re-registration. However, serious exceptions were introduced for the acceptance of these applications.

It has been learnt that the application made by the Turkish Union of Xanthi following the aforementioned law for re-registration was rejected by the Supreme Court, in the wake of the previous rejection by the Court of Appeal, with the decision announced on 30 June 2021.

With the aforementioned judgement, domestic remedies in Greece have been exhausted for the third time in the 38-year-long struggle of the Turkish Union of Xanthi for justice and democracy. This shows that Greece, a member of the European Union and the Council of Europe, persists in its repressive policies, intending to deny the identity of the Turkish Muslim Minority of Western Thrace despite the ECtHR judgements.

We condemn the decision of the Greek Supreme Court which ignores the ECtHR judgement, and invite Greece to act in accordance with international law and implement the ECtHR judgements that it has avoided for 13 years, and to take the necessary steps towards the registration of the associations of the Turkish Minority in Western Thrace.

We will continue to support the Turkish Union of Xanthi’s struggle to legal remedies in line with ECtHR judgements.

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