Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated at a press conference that Greece would appeal an April ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that convicted it as a result of two lawsuits filed by members of the Turkish minority in Greece upon the closure of their Turkish associations in Western Thrace by Greek courts.
In response to questions on the issue, Bakoyannis said the decision to appeal the ruling had been made as a result of a careful scrutiny of the case and stressed that there was nothing more to discuss on the issue at this stage.
Defending that the attitude of Athens toward minorities as an EU member was in harmony with European principles and values, Bakoyannis said Turkey should devise its policies toward its minorities in line with European values as an EU-member candidate country, since the attitudes toward minorities are an important part of the membership stipulations to be complied with.
European court rulings
Hülya Emin and six of her friends appealed to the European court in 2005 upon the closure of the Turkish Women's Culture Association, which they founded in March 2001. In addition, Galip Galip and seven of his friends also appealed to the European court in 2005 after their two associations -- the İskeçe (Xanthi) Turkish Union and the University Graduates Association of the Western Thracian Turkish Minority -- were shut down in the Gümülcine (Komotini) region.
The European court ruled in these lawsuits that Greece had violated the European Convention on Human Rights' Article 11, which regulates the right to organize. While not deeming it necessary to fine Greece in connection with Emin and her friends' lawsuit, the European court did sentence Greece to pay Galip and his friends 8,000 euros in resulting damages. The European court also emphasized that Greece had violated Article 6 of the convention on the right to a fair trial by unnecessarily extending the duration of the trial.
In its legal reasoning the Strasbourg-based court stated that the work of associations to promote their own ethnic cultures on no condition constitutes a threat to a democratic society, that minorities from different cultures are a reality of history and that they should be greeted and protected with the tolerance of a democratic society in compliance with international rules of law.
Greek courts that had issued the rulings had based their rulings on the associations' defining themselves as a "Turkish minority" instead of a "Muslim minority."
Last Mod: 19 Haziran 2008, 11:50