Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Ethnophobia" in Greece

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued two rulings against Greece in regard to the Greek state's treatment of its minority Xanthi Turkish population. While Turkey must meet the Copenhagen political criteria to secure entry into the EU, it is not at all clear that the same criteria were met by Greece prior to entry. From the ECHR decision as rallied by the Greek Helsinki Monitor for human rights(and advice to Turkey):
"The Court observed that even supposing that the real aim of the applicant association had been to promote the idea that there was an ethnic minority in Greece, this could not be said to constitute a threat to democratic society. It reiterated that the existence of minorities and different cultures in a country was a historical fact that a democratic society had to tolerate and even protect and support according to the principles of international law. The Court also considered that it could not be inferred from the factors relied on by the Thrace Court of Appeal that the applicant association had engaged in activities contrary to its proclaimed objectives. Moreover, there was no evidence that the president or members of the association had ever called for the use of violence, an uprising or any other form of rejection of democratic principles. The Court considered that freedom of association involved the right of everyone to express, in a lawful context, their beliefs about their ethnic identity. However shocking and unacceptable certain views or words used might appear to the authorities, their dissemination should not automatically be regarded as a threat to public policy or to the territorial integrity of a country.”
See also Yavuz Bayar's column in Today's Zaman.

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