Turkish mayor invites Greek-origin citizens back to Aegean island
ÇANAKKALE – Anatolia News Agency
The Education Ministry has responded positively to a demand to reopen a Greek minority school on the Aegean island of Gökçeada that has remained closed for nearly half a century. DHA PhotoThe mayor of Gökçeada has called on Turkish citizens of Greek origin to move to the Aegean island after a government decision to reopen a Greek minority school there.
“We hope to see our Greek citizens on Gökçeada in an environment where everybody is living in peaceful surroundings,” Mayor Yücel Atalay told Anatolia news agency today.
The Education Ministry responded positively yesterday to a demand to reopen the school, which has remained closed for nearly half a century.
“As our love for people comes from the creator, we do not care about their religion or race,” Atalay said.
“Hopefully Greeks will return to the island and inhabit their old village. Then, thanks to the reflections from a happy and peaceful Gökçeada, Turkey will paint a more peaceful picture. In this regard I would like to thank our prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Education Minister Nabi Avcı.”
The school, which was opened in 1951, had been shut down in 1964 following a decree issued by Turkey’s second president and prime minister at the time, İsmet İnönü, on the pretext of the growing tensions in Cyprus that led to an exodus of Anatolian Greeks. The school on Gökçeada was shut down shortly thereafter.
Only Turkish citizens are allowed to receive education in minority schools, in accordance with the Lausanne Treaty of 1923.
Today there is no Anatolian Greek community on Gökçeada, except five families, according to Mihalis Vasiliadis, chief editor of the Greek language daily Apoyevmatini.
Gökçeada (Imbros in Greek) is an island in the Aegean Sea and Turkey’s largest island. It is located north of the entrance to the Dardanelles Strait