Turkish-descent MPs in Greece vow to work together on minority issues, economic crisis

Turkish-descent MPs in Greece vow to work together on minority issues, economic crisis

Turkish-descent MPs in Greece vow to work together on minority issues, economic crisis

Hüseyin Zeybek (R) casts his vote on Jan. 25. DHA Photo

Three Greek deputies of Turkish descent who will represent the Western Thracian Turkish minority in the country’s newly elected parliament have vowed to work together to solve the issues of minorities, but say the economic crisis is Greece’s top problem and should be tackled immediately.

Three Turks from the radical left coalition of Syriza, which formed the new government after a landslide victory on Jan. 25, have been elected in the Western Thracian provinces of Komotini and Xanthi.

According to official election results announced by the Greek Interior Ministry, Hüseyin Zeybek and Mustafa Mustafa managed to enter parliament by receiving the highest number of votes in their electoral provinces of Xanthi and Komotini, respectively. Zeybek received 16,244 votes in Xanthi and Mustafa received 12,429 votes in Komotini.

Ayhan Karayusuf, a third lawmaker of Turkish descent, was elected in second place in Komotini with 9,529 votes.

Speaking to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency after the announcement of the election results, Karayusuf said the three deputies would "share responsibilities."

“We will share the responsibilities we shoulder. The minority community’s representation by lawmakers from a leftist party for the first time is an opportunity. We thank the people who stood with us in the elections but we also want them to be with us when we are implementing our policies.”

Mustafa, meanwhile, said times were “tough” but they would work “with great devotion and effort to be useful for our society, minority and country.”

Both deputies underlined that their top priority would be fighting against the effects of the economic crisis that have gripped the country for years.

Karayusuf said the crisis was “not the issue of majority or minority.”

“We will primarily try to find a solution to the humanitarian crisis that has been experienced in the country,” Mustafa said.

However, both asserted that they would also work to introduce fresh solutions to the long-standing problems of minorities in Greece in the long run.

“There are some drawbacks and some problems making our lives harder. We will resolve all of these,” Mustafa said.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has promised to reverse five years of “humiliation and suffering” caused by spending cuts, the price of a 240 billion-euro bailout from international creditors. His movement, now building a coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks, will reject fiscal austerity and demand the country’s foreign debt be partially written off.