By Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis
The statement of the president of the Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace (KIEF), Cigdem Asafoglou, after the 2019 European elections, that KIEF is “a Turkish party, but at the same time an official party of the Greek State, which has simply been founded by Turks” introduces a new cycle of reflection, concern and dialogue in our country. The election result has highlighted a series of “hidden” secrets, political behaviors, phobias, misconceptions, errors and mistakes.
The subject is multidimensional and complex with deep roots. In order to analyse this topic, we need to know not only its real dimensions, but also to approach accurately, determinedly and dispassionately its interpretations in order to draw the appropriate conclusions. (I had previously raised the issue, with my article posted on our website, on 23-6-2014: “The voter behavior of the Muslim minorities in the 2014 European Parliament elections. Reflections on “brutal” figures).
Under no circumstances should we accept further feet-dragging. The following questions must be answered:
- “What really happens in Greek Thrace?”
- “Is our national sovereignty at risk?”
- “What is the role of the Turkish Consulate in Komotini?”
- “What mechanisms are in place to manipulate Muslim minorities?”
- “How will the identity of the Pomaks and the Roma be promoted and guaranteed?”
- “Did the minority policies implemented in Greek Thrace have been successful?”
- “What is the responsibility of the parties?”
I will attempt to record the events and each reader can draw conclusions.
KIEF became a ruling party in two electoral constituencies, Rhodope and Xanthi (25,0496 votes in total). However, there was a fall in votes in relation to the European elections in 2015; for example in Rhodope from 26,042 votes to 23,069, and in Xanthi from 15,391 votes to 14,972. This means that the 50 percent of the minority electorate is controlled by Turkey and directed where Ankara wishes every time. What’s the vote for the other half of the electorate?
In the European elections, New Democracy candidate Hümeyra Amet Oglu received 10,617 votes; SYRIZA candidate Moustafa Ofuk 17,426; KINAL candidate Sadoula Sevtzan 1,259, and KKE candidate Ibraim Keratzi Ibram 904 votes.
KIEF is the fusion of two parties (“Trust” and “Fate”) founded in 1959 by Sadik Achmet. In the 1989 general elections both parties won 25,09% of the vote.
Since then, it appears that the tough minority core remains coherent. Yet it has a certain range and is very limited.
While the political parties are opportunistic and have their own selfish reasons, they have contacts with the Turkish Consulate in Komotini, and the extremist minority groups aiming at the election of MPs (minority and non-minority).
Two typical examples are the following:
Ahmet Hacıosman was the president of KIEF in the period 1999-2007. At the same time, he was elected to the Greek Parliament for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. In the 2015 elections three minority MPs were elected in Rhodope and one in Xanthi with SYRIZA.
The political relations and electoral dependencies of the parties on the leaders of the minority community (for the mass manipulation of the minority voters) is a major problem of the political system of our country.
Minority policy measures taken by our country, particularly in the field of education (with the adoption of positive discrimination), did not produce effective results. The institutionalization of equality by abolishing the administrative measures, and the abolition of Article 19 of the Greek Citizenship Code did not revolutionize the internal system of Muslim minorities.
The adoption of the principle of self-identification has allowed hardliners from the Turkish-speaking minorities to pursue aggressive policies, both against most Muslims, with the aim of not integrating them into the social, cultural and economic fabric of Greece, as well as against the Pomaks, Roma and Alevis. By having a nationalist and racist rhetoric and acting within this framework, they attempt to abolish the diversity within this minority and to safeguard that the imperative, that of the “unified and Turkish” minority, will be promoted.
They are exerting pressures and promoting discrimination, with the aim of homogenizing and controlling all minority groups in Greek Thrace.
In this attempt, the Greek State is unable (or indifferent) to protect the rights of the Pomaks, the Roma, and the Alevis-Bektashis. They seem not to dare to enhance and guarantee their own distinctive identity.
The ambivalent behavior of MPs, politicians, local governors towards pseudo-muftis is also very worrying.
Collaboration, cooperation, and tolerance towards them allows the extreme nationalist minority elite to instrumentalize the Muslim minority of Greek Thrace in order to serve the interests of Turkey. Turkey willingly provides suitable channels of intervention and develops control structures, even interfering in the economic life of minorities, with the example of the Ziraat Bank.
Turkey’s strategic choice is to set out its claim to impose itself as protector on a homogenized minority, which is self-defining “Turkish”. It is a crucial national issue that transcends those tactics that serve the interests of the parties of the politicians.
In the past, there was a proposal to check if the actions of the Turkish Consulate in Komotini go beyond its diplomatic competence. Is that action still desirable? Is it possible?
These concerns are getting more intense under the shadow of the low birth rates in the Christian populations in Greek Thrace, since the picture of what the future will look turns out to be extremely worrying. According to ELSTAT data and demographic analyzes, in the Rhodope and Xanthi plains in the immediate future there will be coherent Muslim populations, as it already happens in the mountainous areas, while the minority groups residentially cluster within urban areas.
The situation of Greek Thrace, due to modern geopolitical developments, is serious and critical. A serious and responsible national debate is required for this major Greek issue. I think that, more than any other time, it is opportune that the new Parliament should adopt the most urgent proposal, that is to set up an “Inter-party Committee” for Greek Thrace.
I would like to conclude by posing a question:
When in Germany the society is seriously questioning the functionality of Jürgen Habermas’ ideology, and Chancellor Angela Merkel admits that “the idea of multiculturalism is dead”, should Greece not “change our tune” and explore the potential of a coherent society? I say, maybe!