Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday knocked Greece for violating an agreement that has governed relations between the two countries for a century.
Following World War I and the Turkish War of Independence, the Lausanne Treaty was signed by the new Republic of Turkey in 1923, to settle disputes with the Allies, including Greece. In a statement on the 99th anniversary of the Treaty, Erdogan expressed displeasure over the alleged violation of the terms of the agreement, as he accused Greece of undermining the rights of the Muslim minority in Greece’s Thrace region.
What’s Turkey’s relationship with the region?
About 32% of Thrace’s population are Muslims, and they consist of Turks, Roma, and Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks. Parts of the terms of the Lausanne Treaty are the rights of the remaining Muslim minority in Greece and Christians in Turkey. The agreement also stated conditions for Greek rule of the Aegean islands, which lie off Turkey’s coast. “The conditions registered in the treaty, especially the rights of the Turkish minority, have been ignored or deliberately eroded,” Erdogan said, adding that “it is not possible for our country to accept this situation, which is incompatible with good neighborly relations and loyalty to the treaty”.
Has Greece responded to the allegation?
In response to recent complaints from Turkey over Greece’s militarizing of the islands, the Greek government insisted it is acting in accordance with international law, and only defending its territory in response to constant Turkish hostility. Condemning Athens for the closure of four Muslim minority schools in Thrace last week, Turkey’s Foreign Minister accused Greece of “discriminatory and oppressive policies”, an accusation the Greek Foreign Ministry rejected as “unsubstantiated”, as it explained that the schools were suspended because student numbers fell below the minimum requirements.