Greece does not show Turkish descendants respect, says Erdoğan
ISTANBUL- Anadolu Agency
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 17 condemned the latest move by Greece on appointing the chief mufti and Athens' treatment of Turkish descendants in Western Thrace.
"Under Treaty of Lausanne, Greece has no right to appoint the chief mufti for Muslims as Turkey does not have the right to appoint the patriarch in our country," said Erdoğan after attending the commemoration ceremony of Turkey's late President Turgut Özal.
"Not Greek officials but our muftis and imams have the right to decide on the chief mufti in Greece," he added.
He also criticized how Athens treated Turkish descendants living in the country, saying that "some 150,000 people of Turkish descent live in Western Thrace today, but Greece does not show them the respect those citizens deserve".
He said Turkey has tried to fix relations by negotiating with all the Greek governments so far, but none of those efforts have borne fruit.
The election of muftis is regulated by the 1913 Treaty of Athens, a Greek-Ottoman pact that was implemented by Athens in 1920.
But in 1991, in violation of international law, Greece annulled its law regarding the treaty and unlawfully started to appoint muftis.
The muftis appointed by Greece have since usurped local Muslims’ right of jurisdiction on family and inheritance matters.
The majority of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace do not recognize muftis appointed by Greece and instead rightfully elect their muftis.
Greece, however, has refused to recognize elected muftis since 1991 and authorities have placed some clerics on trial.
'Turkey has managed record investments in last 19 years'
Erdoğan also on attended the opening ceremony of the Hasankeyf-2 Bridge, built in southeastern Turkey, with a live
link from the Huber Mansion in the Turkish metropolis Istanbul.
"Hasankeyf-2 Bridge will link (the provinces of) Batman, Mardin, and Habur border crossing and have a multiplier effect on the regional trade," said Erdoğan.
"We are dealing with complex terrains as well as sabotage by separatist terrorist organizations in our projects in Anatolia," he noted, referring to the difficulty in the building process of the bridge.
Despite all opposition groups, the PKK terrorist organization, and their supporters, "we are striving to ensure the same level of development in Turkey's both eastern and western parts," said Erdoğan.
"We have managed record investments in the last 19 years, especially in the field of transport," said the Turkish president, stressing that all developments Turkey has reached in this period have much exceeded those during the country's history.