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The Political Writings of the Minority Press By Vemund Aarbakke Introduction The Muslims in Greek Thrace are not migrants as in Western Europe, but were left in situ as the Ottoman Empire receded. There are different ways to describe this kind of minority experience. Scholars have referred to them as a “beached diaspora” (Madianou 2005: 526). A minority author characterised them as people “left behind in the former European realms of the Ottoman Empire” (Dede 1975). Consequently the minority had much of its social and political organisation intact when the area was annexed to Greece in 1920. The Lausanne treaty and ensuing population exchange (1923) exempted the Muslim minority, together with the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul. This connected the fate of the minority to fluctuations in Greek-Turkish relations as both countries approached the minority issue within the conceptual framework of intergovernmental reciprocity (Akgönül 2008). To a certain degree this is just a reflection of who are the dominant factors in minority politics. The minority members are often mobilised simply as secondary actors in the tug of war between the two states. Much of the writings about the minority have also been filtered through this perspective. In the following paper I take writings by minority members who live in Greece as my point of departure. They have certainly also been influenced strongly by the overarching framework of Greek-Turkish relations, but they also present aspects of the minority that are less known and little explored. The text consists of two parts. The first part will present a historical review of the function and development of the minority press, thus presenting the overall context it has evolved within. The main focus is on political writings. I make no attempt to give an exhaustive list of every publication. Admirable attempts have been made by others to catalogue the minority press (Konortas 1985; Popovic 1986; Saglam 2000). This is no simple task since some papers were issued just for a brief period, while others were issued with great irregularity. Up until the 1990s it was in most cases simple publications consisting of one or two sheets of paper. The second part concentrate on the turbulent period 1985-1996 in order to present a more detailed view of how the minority press coped with a period when it went through a great political and moral crisis. The idea is to give a clear presentation of some of the issues at stake and then analyse how they were dealt with in the context of minority politics. In this way I hope to shed more light on the
-2– many intricacies of minority politics. Extensive references to texts make it possible to explore questions related to style and rhetoric. It also helps us to become acquainted with the repertory of many people who have played a central role in minority politics. My interest in the minority press goes back a long while. The minority first caught my attention in the late 1980s, when I was a student at the Institute of Modern Greek and Balkan Studies, University of Copenhagen. At this time the minority started to be prominently featured in the Greek mainstream press. In spring 1991 I stayed in Thessaloniki on a scholarship and became acquainted with a minority member who studied medicine there, Mehmet Bilge. I was also able to make my first trip to Thrace when I accompanied Bjørn Cato Funnemark of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee as his interpreter when he collected material for a report. In this connection I picked up my first minority newspapers. I started to work on my doctoral thesis about the minority in 1993. During the next years I had several extended stays in Thrace. As a result I became acquainted with all the important minority politicians who were still alive as of 1993. Since I was working on a contemporary subject I followed the Greek and Turkish press. Not only for factual information, but also because of an interest in how the minority issue was presented in the Greek and Turkish public space. Of course, the minority press holds a privileged place in this connection, but it was not an easy task to obtain a systematic collection of the relevant newspapers. There exists no complete archive of the minority press. The “Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority” (C.E.FO.M.), which started up in May 2007, is now trying to remedy this situation.1 During my own most intensive period of research in the 1990s there was no such institution. In most cases I was able to obtain complete or partial collections from the publishers themselves and start subscriptions. Some of the older newspapers I obtained from Mr. Rıza Kırlıdökme, who is one of a handful of minority members who possess extensive collections. Traditional research before the advent of Internet was of course more arduous, but also very interesting.2 I learned to know all the newspaper owners personally and had the opportunity to discuss the issues during repeated visits over several years. In spite of this I must conclude that in most instances the newspaper articles were more revealing than private conversations. Not the least since many articles were written in the heat of the moment while facing upcoming deadlines. In conversation
I am using the wording as it appears on its webpage (http://www.pekem.org/). This foundation is based in Komotini and is better known by the acronyms in Greek (ΠΕΚΕΜ) or Turkish (BAKEŞ). The foundation endeavors to collect all written material on the minority irrespective of language and origin. Besides published sources, it has also an extensive collection of Master and Doctoral Theses. 2 Today several of the newspapers can be read online. Relevant links can be found at: http://www.trakyaninsesi.com.
-3– the editors would be more careful, particularly if I brandished a recording device, and in some instances they would try to keep up a certain pose towards me. Nevertheless, the personal contacts helped me to obtain a better feel for the material. Through the course of time I could also discuss some issues more openly for the simple reason that there was no reason to conceal things they knew I was aware of. Methodologically the challenge was to gain the requisite familiarity with the historical, social and personal factors that shaped minority politics in order to contextualise the various conflicts and put them into proper perspective. Both Greek and Turkish writing on the minority is often dominated by certain stereotypes that take time to get to grips with. Another problem is that the presentation of the minority press is often very partisan depending on which ideological camp or interest group is involved. It is easy for outsiders to view the minority as a single unit. This can sometimes even influence foreign writers who have no reason to become involved in the internal minority squabbles. A glaring example is the Helsinki Watch report from 1991 that mentioned even the most marginal newspapers of the group that was dependent on Turkey and excluded very prominent newspapers belonging to opposing factions.3 Minority Press and Ethnicity Before proceeding further it is necessary to clear up a few popular misconceptions regarding the minority’s ethnic structure. In order to put the minority press in proper perspective, the analytical framework should corresponds with relevant categories found in the empirical material. One approach that can be very misleading is the current habit of dividing the minority according to three ethnic groups, i.e. those of “Turkish origin” (tourkogeneis), Pomaks and Gypsies. It has been a central concern of Greek policy to differentiate the minority members from the Turks of Turkey. Traditionally this was done by insisting on its definition as a Muslim minority following the literal wording of the Lausanne Treaty (1923). This position was left untenable when international developments in minority protection put emphasis on minority members’ right to declare their ethnicity themselves as formulated in the OSCE meeting in Copenhagen June 1990 (Heraclides 1997). Greece came under further pressure with a Helsinki Watch report titled: Destroying Ethnic Identity - The Turks of Greece (Whitman 1990). The new dogma was formulated when the then PM, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, visited Thrace in May 1991 to announce a change in Greek minority policy and signifies a need to make
Whitman 1990. See the comment in: Trakya’nın Sesi 398/31.10.1991, “Conversation with Onsunoğlu part 2” [original in Turkish]
-4– Greek official terminology correspond better with terms in common use internationally. It says more about the concerns of the Greek state than about actual cleavages within the minority. By this device the Turkish influence is partially accepted, but the real aim is to stress the heterogeneous character of the minority. To obtain a better understanding of ethnic relations within the minority it is necessary to recapitulate a little. In the Ottoman Empire the main administrative divisions of the population were made according to religious adherence. Whatever language the Muslims may have spoken was secondary to the overarching religious identity. This is also the reason why the minorities exempted from the Greek-Turkish population exchange in 1923 were defined according to religious criteria. Within the Muslim minority in Greek Thrace we can at various periods find several subgroups of greater or lesser importance. Besides the aforementioned Pomaks and Gypsies the minority has also included Kurds, Circassians, Greek speaking Muslims from Crete, Albanians, religious subgroups such as the Alevi, etc. As a curiosity I can also mention the descendents of Negroes, who had been brought from Egypt to work on the large estates, who are still to be found in some villages in the Xanthi plain. The Turkish republic sought to modernise the country and impose a new Turkish identity on its heterogeneous population. This led to a conscious clash with the old religious establishment that was bound to have implications for the Muslim minority in Greece as well (See below). Consequently the most important cleavage in the minority until 1974 was the conflict between the conservative Muslims and the adherents of the Turkish Kemalists reforms. In this connection it is significant to see which minority newspaper used the old Ottoman (Arabic) script while others adopted the modern Turkish (Latin) alphabet. Since the new alphabet could not be imposed like it was in republican Turkey, it would only be introduced gradually and was to a certain degree influenced by the fluctuations in Greek-Turkish relations. Another important issue in the minority press is the more recent phenomenon of featuring some articles written in Greek. The question of a Gypsy or Pomak press, on the other hand, is very marginal. To begin with, there is no Gypsy press and the overwhelming majority of the Gypsies have Turkish as their mother tongue. The Gypsies exist as a separate ethnic group to the extent that they often live in separate quarters, intermarry and have their own way of life. They often pose as Turks, but are viewed by other minority members as Gypsies.4 This is, however, irrelevant for a discussion of the minority press. The Pomak issue is a little trickier. The Pomaks have been a bone of contention between Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish
For the issue of Pomak and Gypsy identities within a Greek political context, see Troubeta 2001.
6 Most of them are amateurish and slipshod. Social mobility has usually entailed assimilation to the dominant Turkish culture. There are no overarching organisational structures to provide them with collective cohesion based on their ‘ethnic’ particularities. Greek nationalists attempt to trace their origin back to ancient Thracian tribes that are related to the Greeks. This reached a peak with the various codification efforts of the language that resulted in the appearance of several dictionaries and grammars in the period 1995-1997. Bulgarian nationalists coined the term “Bulgarian Muslims” and claim them for the Bulgarian nation on account of their language. Even though questions related to religion and ethnicity was not included in Greek censuses after 1951. 7 See the philological criticism in Ioannidou. One of the reasons is that Pomak identity is found in its unadulterated form mainly in isolated mountain villages. The Turks harbour negative stereotypes towards the Pomaks. however. we witness more concerted efforts by Greek authorities to promote Pomak identity. . to Pomaks who are fully assimilated into a Turkish identity. see Aarbakke 2010 (forthcoming).000 Muslims with the following breakdown: 47% Turkish Origin. All these efforts are mainly an exercise on paper that has little to do with the situation on the ground. but many Pomaks consider themselves Turks and furthermore Pomaks and Turks intermarry. These are unofficial census figures that are not published in a regular fashion. We can find Pomak identity in all phases of transition from the unadulterated Pomaks in the mountain villages. The development of the Greek state’s policy towards Pomaks has been eminently covered by Kostopoulos 2009. (Troubeta 2001: 84). An authoritative analysis of the minority’s electoral behaviour for the period before 1967 puts correctly little emphasis on the Pomak factor. This development did not create concerns to Greek authorities as long as the main threat was considered to come from Bulgaria.7 They seem to be motivated not so much by an interest in the 5 6 For a more thorough discussion.-5– nationalism. Alexandra and Christian Voss. we can from time to time encounter figures concerning the ethnic composition of the minority. It is not very clear to me what are here the criteria for the Pomak category since it is not a unified group.5 Before 1974 the Pomak identity was of minor importance within the dynamics of minority politics. Figures collected in connection with the 2001 census gives a total of 111. Turkish nationalists try to connect them to Turkish tribes that arrived in the Balkans before the Ottomans.” Die Welt der Slaven XLVI. and only in the area of Xanthi where they were most numerous and there was no organised conservative wing (Nikolakopoulos 1990-1991: 184). 32% Pomaks and 21% Gypsies (Kostopoulos 2009: 291). These codification efforts did not originate from within the minority. After 1974. 2001. “Kodifizierungsversuche des pomakischen und ihre ethnopolitische Dimension.
A historical Review of the Minority Press It can be useful to make a brief historical overview of the establishment of the minority press in the area of Western Thrace. the label Pomak can be misleading. The newspaper is sometimes referred to as “İntependat” which must be a transliteration of the way the name was rendered in the Arabic script. A completely different thing is of course that many writers in the Turkish language press are of Pomak extraction since Turkish has been the language of minority education. There was no local press tradition in Western Thrace before the area came under Greek rule in 1920. While the early issues tried to introduce articles written in the Pomak language.-6– Pomak language and culture as by hostility to the Turkish influence. If we are interested in understanding their place within the dynamics of Greek and Turkish policies it is more instructive to label them “half-completed Turks. Sağlam 2000: 7. Since we are not dealing with an internally coherent group. The appearance of Pomak newspapers should of course be welcomed to the degree that they express a genuine interest and promote cultural diversity. tries to deny their separate features and attempts to complete their assimilation into the Turkish national paradigm. Within the context of the minority press Pomak newspapers are a very recent and marginal phenomenon. the current content is mainly written in Greek and consists of anti-Turkish rhetoric reflecting opinions expressed by the Greek nationalist right that is involved as sponsors of Pomak identity.8 The caption of the newspaper appears in Arabic and Greek script. Whatever newspapers were read came from outside such as Yeni Asır and Salabet from Thessaloniki or Tasvir-i Efkâr and İkbâl from Istanbul (Sağlam 2000: 6). At the moment. Turkey. The only known instance of a local newspaper was Indépendant that came out with one issue in 1913 after the Second Balkan War during the attempt to set up an Independent Republic of Western Thrace.gr/. .zagalisa. they reflect the way the Pomaks are caught between the Turkish policy of assimilation and Greek policy of differentiation. 54. on the other hand. The first Pomak newspaper Zagalisa (Love) appeared in 1997 and after being issued somewhat infrequently over three periods it has reached 39 issues by March 2010.” In this connection Greek “Pomak experts” are promoting a policy of supporting their language as one of the features that distinguish them from the Turks and prevent their complete assimilation (Liapis 1995: 83–84). however. The local Jew Samuel Karaso published the newspaper that was written in French and Turkish.9 8 9 It is currently issued monthly and can be found online: http://www.
The minority’s lack of integration in Greek society is exemplified by that none of the inter-war period minority newspapers participated in local press associations (Tsioumis 1994:136). it is always useful to ask basic questions such as: Who is the publisher and what is the target group of a given newspaper? In this case we do not know much about the publishers. there was some need of outside inspiration. There are also other examples of short-term collaboration for specific purposes. see Kushner (1977: 102–103). “Fugitives” is in common use in international bibliography as a translation of the Turkish Fıraliler. The same people also acted as intermediaries towards the Turkish consulate (Özgüç 1974: 55. and in Greek Thrace they kept their power much longer than was the case in republican Turkey. although neither of the allegations should be taken at face value. 168). Logically. that “the 150. At least up until 1974 the main ideological front was between the conservative Muslims who held on Ottoman traditions and the modernists who adopted the Kemalist reforms. mostly in areas of economic interest. Analytically speaking. There is a grain of truth in both positions. In the case of the conservative camp this came in the form of “fugitives” who followed the retreating Greek army after the Asia Minor front broke down or who left Turkey because of opposition to the Kemalist regime. is a specific historical term. but it is fairly safe to suppose that it was the usual attempt of joining forces on the eve of elections without any deeper commitment from either of the sides. There are two communities interacting within certain structures. These middlemen owe their position to their ability to broker large sections of the minority. for those who are not in the know. Ottoman society was completely dominated by this class of local notables (ağa-eşraf). but try to find an influential Muslim who can appeal to them on his behalf.11 The most prominent of the exiles was the last 10 For 11 I this sense of community. Among them were 13 persons from the list of “the 150” who had been declared persona non gratae by the new regime.-7– The first post-Lausanne newspaper Zaman (Times) was issued in 1923 by Tahsin Ziya and the lawyer Hatzidakis for election propaganda. I should add. am here using the established terminology. In the inter-war period both camps would claim to be the true representatives of the minority and accuse the other of being imposed on the minority by outside forces. If we disregard recent times. since there was no local press tradition.10 The Christian politician who solicits the Muslim voters does not appeal to them directly. In order to understand the dynamics of Minority-Majority relations we must keep in mind that the minority was not integrated in Greek society on an individual basis. In recent times this kind of collaboration has been most prominent in local elections.” (in Turkish Yüzellilikler). historically the minority press has mainly been occupied with internal oppositions. For a more extensive presentation of their activities in .
Greek works are ignorant about the context of the 150 and. It was more usual for Greek authorities to offer discreet support Thrace. a special case since Hamdi bey’s dependence on the Greek authorities was a more important constant than his ideological orientation. No date is specified.1982. Although they came from outside. This is. In this respect they represented a new and outside influence in Thrace. they were unable to specify who should be excluded from any amnesty. but the exceptions were still undetermined. but it must have been written by his collaborators relatively shortly after his death. those of ‘the 150’ who were still in the country were ordered to leave. A list was finally submitted to the assembly in June. Mehmet Hilmi was later hailed as the one who “kindled the light of Turkish nationalism in Western Thrace”.06.13 Within this Turkish nationalist view this makes one group into Turkish patriots and the other into traitors. see Dede (2009). the Turkish government accepted the amnesty but reserved the right to make 150 —as yet unnamed — exceptions. besleme is also the term for a servant girl brought up as a member of a household. 13 Özgüç (1974: 116).-8– Şeyhülîslam (chief religious official in the Ottoman empire). see Trakya’nın Sesi 20/25. although he only includes 12. present is as 150 persons who came to Greece. since no list of ‘undesirables’ had been prepared. particularly during periods of tension in Greek-Turkish relations. Mustafa Sabri. Greek writers will usually stress that Kemalist newspapers obtained support from Turkey through the consulate in Komotini (Tsiumis 1994: 141–146).12 Both of them were natives of Western Thrace. Questions surrounding the origin of regular or sporadic financial support have been a reoccurring and sensitive issue. Kemalist writers accuse routinely the conservative newspapers of being instigated and supported by the Greek authorities. Iordanoglou (1989:222) has correct reference to them. In order to clear up these common misconceptions I quote the concise presentation of Erik Zürcher (1993: 170): «The Entente had wanted a general amnesty to be part of the [Lausanne] treaty. The amnesty was announced on 16 April 1924. It is unlikely that any of the newspapers could cover their expenses by sales alone. For another portrait by an admirer. In the end. For example. . ignoring the domestic Turkish dimension. As a rule. however. Özgüç divides the minority press into the “nationalist” (milliyetçi) press and the press “fed” (besleme) by the Greek authorities. Proposals for this were discussed in the subcommission on minorities. Besides the primary meaning of feeding. they must have been closer to the local tradition than the adherents of the Kemalist reforms. The most prominent adherents of the Kemalist reforms included the young teacher Mehmet Hilmi (1901–1931) and Osman Nuri (1902–1990) who later had a long and prominent political carer as MP after World War II. however. and shortly afterwards. The information is taken from the minority newspaper Ülkü.» 12 Yıldız (1976). but the Turks did not want to grant a general amnesty to opponent of the nationalists and. but had spent their formative years under the tutelage of Young Turk institutions in Edirne. Özgüç considers the newspaper Milliyet (Nationality – 1931-1968) issued by Hamdi Hüseyin Fehmi (Hamdi bey) in Xanthi as a typical example of a besleme newspaper (Özgüç 1974: 124).
etc. 691/23. but base my account on the existing bibliography.1992.-9– to reinforce the cleavages within the minority.1977.10. Soltaridis (1993).10. . however.11.1990. In recent times the journalist Hâki would often mention that some newspapers did not base their existence on sales to the readers. the young Kemalists were based in Xanthi. I have not read the early newspapers in Arabic script in the original.04.1992. Mehmet Hilmi came into conflict with the Greek authorities because of his writings and was exiled 3 times. It was the organ of the local Socialist Tobacco Workers Club.16 Eventually the newspaper was discontinued when Mehmet Hilmi fell out with the Club. 669/03. 16 Sağlam 2000:7-8.1992. Greece favoured the Kemalists as a concession towards Turkey. He subsequently published Yeni Yol (New Road) beginning in 11 February 1926 and then Yeni Adım (New Step) from 30 September 1926.12. More recently Yannis Bonos have written various articles based on his own reading of the original newspapers. such as the early 1950s. variations.15 In recent times some newspapers that were funded by Turkey would even point this out to increase their prestige within the minority and simultaneously cast doubt about the funding of their rivals.10.1989. In the international bibliography Popovic (1986) presents an overview of the publications. see also: İleri 652/25. Greek scholars have usually based their account on scattered translations found in the archives of the Foreign Ministry (Tsioumis 1994. but little about their content. Erdoğdu (1993). see: İleri (62/10. Returning to the 1920s. as Turkish diplomacy had the leverage to 14 İleri 670/10. as did Mehmet Müftüoğlu for his election newspaper in 1985. Their first newspaper of any merit was Yeni Ziya (New Light-sometimes viewed as a continuation of the Thessaloniki newspaper with the same name that it obtained the printing press from). İkibin’e Doğru 17.01. There are.1993). 692/30. 728/17. 15 For characteristic comments to the informal financial support to the minority press. In Turkish there are short references to these newspapers in Aydınlı (1971) and Özgüç (1974).1991. The question of financing has remained a sensitive issue. some villagers would remark that others left the newspapers for free. There has been great competition for the semi-official and secret funds to minority members from Greece and Turkey. The last newspaper is held in very high regard in Kemalist minority circles. however.09. as he was more occupied with the Turkish nationalist cause than labour issues.17 It is also one of the early newspapers with greatest longevity as it remained in print after the death of Mehmet Hilmi until 1936.04. These exiles were of short duration. For the discussion that follows. The inherent logic is that Turkey would support Kemalist newspapers in order to exercise influence over the minority.1992. 613/09. During periods of good relations.14 He would complain that when he went to a village to collect subscription money. Soltaridis 1997). while Greece would support the conservatives in order to curtail influence by the Turkish state. and came out with a total of 104 issues over an 18-month period starting 24 June 1924. 17 One indication is that Aydın Ömeroğlu borrowed the name for the newspaper he issued among the diaspora in Germany in the 1980s.
Many young minority members went to Turkey for studies and returned imbued with the spirit of the new Turkey. The early 1950s is considered to be a golden period for the minority. after request by İsmet İnönü. Venizelos agreed to remove the most prominent persons who were undesired by Turkey (Nikolakopoulos 1990-1991: 180). with Hafız Yaşar Mehmetoğlu (1920– 1992) and Molla Yusuf Hasanoğlu (1915–1969) as leading figures together with the “fugitive” Hüsnü Yusuf. This is a testimony both to the prestige enjoyed by some of those who fled to Greece and the insecurity of the new Kemalist regime. With the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations. We can consequently observe from the beginning that the minority press became influenced by fluctuations in Greek-Turkish relations. n.1928. The cabinet banned entry into Turkey of several conservative newspapers published in Xanthi and Komotini and kept them under continuous surveillance. The Kemalists gained new momentum in the early 1950s with the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations. were still very influential.. but the Ankara regime perceived the newspapers published in Greece as a real threat to the new Turkish state. however. 458). and to teach them not to make suggestions outside their authority. however. Mustafa Sabri reacted strongly to Turkish attempts to stop his writings and condemned it as Turkish disrespect for press freedom: The [Greek] government ought to answer officially those gentlemen who move heaven and earth with the good relations [to Turkey] as pretext. In 1950 they reasserted their influence with the foundation of the religious association “Islamic Revival” (İntibah-i İslam). The conservative camp continued to be influential. In the opposite case these faltering actions lead to the conclusion that Ankara fears the Şeyhülîslam and that Greece fears Ankara…18 Greece would from time to time take measures to curb the activities of the conservatives in order to please Turkey and eventually with the Greek-Turkish rapprochement in 1930. but time was on the side of the Kemalists since the conservatives could not compete in the long term with the cultural and political weight of republican Turkey. Ankara reacted by accusing the Greek government of turning a blind eye to the seditious propaganda spread by the ‘traitors’ who had fled from Turkey (Boyar 2007:119-122). Greece cracked down on the most anti-Turkish section 18 Yarın 09. It is probably hard to imagine today. quoted in (Soltaridis 1997: 205. as Greece made a number of concessions to the Kemalists in the name of Greek-Turkish friendship. The most important conservative newspapers from this period are Hak Yol (Righteous Road) and Sebat (perseverance). The conservatives.10 – secure his return. .01. This was also the case with the conservative newspapers. Western Thrace was considered to be a haven for the anti-regime and anti-reform Turkish opposition.
Asım Haliloğlu had spent most of his formative years in Turkey.1965) in Xanthi and Akın (Attack . For a concise presentation of the events. One of his best known exploits from the 1960s concerns dressing up a friend to impersonate the Turkish consul and accompany him when he drove around to the villages for election propaganda. and created a following among the urban minority youth. Hasan Hatipoğlu had attended a Greek secondary school in Komotini. Akın was the first newspaper in Komotini issued entirely in the modern Turkish script and was published by Asım Haliloğlu (1923-1980) and Hasan Hatipoğlu (1923-2010). and was one of the few in the minority who had a good command of Greek. Lately Turkish scholars have also shown greater interest in investigating some of these unsavoury aspects of Turkish policies. and discussions of his role in minority politics with several leading minority members from all factions. The pogrom was organised by Turkish intelligence to put pressure on Greece during the Cyprus negotiations. conversations with him over several years from 1991 and after. Hüsnü Yusuf was exiled outside Thrace. this made them more into rivals than brothers in arms. but arrived in Thrace as an outsider with little knowledge of Greek society. He graduated from Istanbul University.. In the period up until 1967 the Kemalist side was represented by the newspapers Trakya (Thrace . and to prevent the Greek Orthodox minority from consolidating its position in Istanbul. See also the portrait by İbram Onsunoğlu in Azınlıkça no.1932-1941. . written shortly after his death. see (Alexandris 1983: 256–266). and could be very condescending and intimidating towards villagers. They also represented different versions of the modernist project. This period lasted until the pogrom against the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul in September 1955. while Hatipoğlu exploited Kemalism as a way of furthering his own political carer. Trakya was the newspaper of Osman Nuri who served as MP from 1950 to 1965. Faculty of Law. He excelled in petty politics acting as if he was the local representative of Turkey. Although both Trakya and Akın represented the modernist wing. Osman Nuri wanted to modernise and transform the minority on the model of the new Turkey.11 – of the conservatives represented by some of the remaining “fugitives” from Turkey. Consequently he was well acquainted with the Turkish reality. He represented the old established Kemalist ideal and was considered to be close to the Turkish consulate. respectively). 20 I know Hatipoğlu from a systematic reading of his newspaper. hold a special place in the history of Greek-Turkish relations. After saying a few words in the village coffee houses he pointed to the car on his way out and told the villagers that the consul accompanied him. 55 March and 56 April 2010.1956-1993) in Komotini. 1946. Güven (2005).20 19 What is known in both Greek and Turkish as the “September Events” (Ta Septemvriana and Eylül Olaylari. In the beginning it came as a breath of fresh air for the modernists in Komotini. See for example.19 This led to the return of Hüsnü Yusuf and a Greek sponsored revival of the anti-Turkish section of the minority.
Molla Yusuf was not so much involved in the press. It was natural that the minority could not be kept isolated from development in Turkey. which continued the rivalry with Akın in the modernist camp. This was intensified during the colonel’s dictatorship when certain discriminatory measures became institutionalised. His younger cousin Selahattin Galip had been involved with the publishing of Trakya and would go on to issue his own newspapers Azınlık Postası (Minority Post 1967-1981).. This was due to several factors. while Asım Haliloğlu challenged Osman Nuri unsuccessfully in Xanthi. but excelled by his ability intervene on behalf of minority members towards the Greek authorities.1985). which influenced negatively the Muslim minority in Greek Thrace. As a result there was a general dissatisfaction in the minority and the internal oppositions took on a secondary role. The old conservative-modernist opposition broke down during the course of the colonels’ dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974).12 – In the conservative camp there was also a differentiation between the strong antiTurkish position of the remaining “fugitives” and the more moderate conservative traditionalists. Since the minority had little contact with Greek education. while the second had its most eloquent figure in Hafız Yaşar.21 But there were also new 21 Galip would challenge the expulsion to no avail (Kourtovik 1997). The conservatives did not have the same internal clashes as the modernist and were steadily represented by Molla Yusuf. The rivalry in the modernist camp was very much related to the rivalry for the political representation of the minority.03. Hasan Hatipoğlu represented the minority in Komotini for most of the period before 1967. With the passing of time and the boost in education spurred by the Greek-Turkish rapprochement in the early 1950s the scales had tipped to the side of Turkey. . As a result Selahattin Galip served a prison sentence and was eventually expelled from Greece and settled in Turkey. Another factor was the dwindling fortunes of the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul. The first group was represented by represented by Hüsnü Yusuf and Hafız Ali Reşat. the models for modern education came from Turkey. He later published a selection of writings from his newspaper in book form (Galip 1998). The post-1974 Minority Press What was then the situation of the minority’s political press after the return of democracy in 1974? Trakya had folded in 1965 when Osman Nuri ended his parliamentary career. Azınlık Postası was considered to be closer to Turkish diplomacy and had the most vocal criticism of the discrimination against the minority during the dictatorship (İleri 380/29. The dictatorship also laid a curb on the minority press.
It was consequently often expressing the “official” Turkish position. This newspaper represents an unusual mixture within the minority context. and has reprinted various articles with religious content. on the other he was rarely able to see beyond the narrow world of minority politics. On the other hand. In the 1980s his newspaper was considered to be closest to the Turkish Consulate in Komotini. The newspapers were more or less one-man enterprises. He grew up in a village (Rizoma). Onsunoğlu has written in several other newspapers and had for a short while his own paper called Denge (Balance) . The most prominent for following the political situation of the minority were: İleri (Forward) Komotini (1975–2004?) founded by Salih Halil (Hâki) (1939–). Hâki’s ambition was to be the chronicler of the minority. when Sadık Ahmet was prevented from running. The psychiatrist İbrahim Onsunoğlu (1948–). He was known to make a point of that the Turkish Consulate funded him to increase his prestige and also used this to throw suspicion on other newspapers’ sources of income. It was the first minority newspaper to work systematically on distribution. He is very outspoken and has often been in conflict with the group that enjoys Turkish patronage. He gets easily exited and has written many articles in anger where other people would weigh their words more carefully. In the period under discussion he was politically in an uneasy alliance with Akın. Dede is far from being a backward conservative and keeps in better touch with general developments in Greek society than the other newspapers. and very much coloured by the personality of the owners.. He was elected independent MP for Rodopi in November 1989. It has a certain religious profile. has also written extensively in this newspaper.13 – newspapers on the scene. On one hand this provides a greater variety than other newspapers. It is the newspaper that came out with the greatest regularity in the period under discussion averaging more than 40 issues a year. A presentation of the newspapers can give us an impression about the general situation of the minority press as well as the particularities of the publishers. Gerçek (Truth) Komotini (1977–1994) founded by İsmail Molla (Rodoplu) (1938–). Trakya'nın Sesi (Voice of Thrace) Xanthi/Komotini (1981–) founded by Abdülhalim Dede (1956–). since the newspaper was his main source of income. who is the most articulate voice among those who try to redefine the minority’s position towards a modern European orientation. and after completing the medrese in Komotini he went to Turkey where he graduated from an İmam-Hatip school. While others used their newspapers as vehicles for their political ambitions. After completing the medrese in Komotini he went to Egypt for higher education. Hâki was the first person outside the urban elite to start a newspaper. In addition.
but there were also several 22 For a good example see Onsunoğlu 1997.1995. first issues of the newspapers appeared under the name of Sadık’s D. It can also be seen as a new period for the minority press. As a result we see a change in the minority press. He has also written several books about minority related issues.24 His own newspaper Balkan folded in 1994 because of quarrels with his collaborators. Balkan Komotini (1992–1994). He had already been able to use his influence in Turkey to close down his rival newspapers Akın and Gerçek in 1993 and 1994 respectively. This is a further indication of these newspapers’ direct dependence on Turkey. and her newspaper has also featured several articles by the younger politicians with left wing leanings. but had no political ambition himself and preferred to work for others.E. Mustafa had a long apprenticeship from several minority newspapers and his abilities as a writer were widely acknowledged. The death of Sadık in summer 1995 changed the internal balances in the minority. Sadık also tried to close İleri and Trakya’nın Sesi by asking minority members to terminate their subscriptions. In the beginning she was part of the opposition against Sadık Ahmet and the independent ticket.. 23 The . His good command of Greek has enabled him to present eloquently the minority issue to a Greek audience. Aydın Ömeroğlu (1948–) has his secondary education from Turkey. He was the first choice among Christian candidates who wanted someone to write a newspaper that could attract the Muslim vote in local elections. He issued rather irregularly first the newspaper Yeni Adım. During the early 1980s he was instrumental in organising the minority workers who lived in Germany. Komotini (1989–2000). Mustafa was born and raised in Komotini and had obtained his higher education from a Turkish teacher college. He later studied economics at the University of Hamburg.B party.23 The newspaper was owned by Sadık Ahmet.08. but concentrated later on literary subjects. She was the first woman publisher from the minority. but he was never able to fulfil his ambition of playing a role in minority politics. She was close to Dede. but mainly written by Mustafa Hafız Mustafa (1945–1996). In spite of the serious repercussions on their economy. Among the old newspaper İleri and Trakya’nın Sesi continued their existence. where he was strongly influenced by left wing currents. He was considered one of the best pens in the minority. these newspapers remained in circulation. The newspaper was issued somewhat irregularly.14 – in Komotini (1989). and later Diyalog. “Will we miss Sadık?” by İbram Onsunoğlu. Aile Birlik (Family Unity).22 Yeni Adım/Diyalog (New Step/Dialogue) Hamburg-Komotini (1983–). 24 Trakya’nın Sesi 516/09. His academic training enables him to write more scholarly about many issues. Refika Nazım (1947–2003) had her teacher education from Turkey and like many others with this background she could not find work in a minority school.
Turkish nationalism was a “late bloomer” in the European context. Kurds etc. On the other hand. Bülten (Bulletin) Komotini (2000–). There are still some newspapers that operate on a smaller scale such as Olay (Event) Komotini (1999-2008). From a technical point of view it is by far the most advanced minority newspaper with its modern lay-out and several pages (In the beginning 10 and lately 20 or more). I would look at questions related to the identity of the minority and the way is handled its delicate position within Greek Turkish relations. She has been able to gather a team of writers around her. The first important newcomer was Gündem (Agenda) Komotini (1996–) founded by Hülya Emin (1968-) after a previous abortive attempt with Ortam (Surroundings . This meant the linguistic assimilation of non-Turkish speaking groups when possible. and represents a more professional approach. She has a degree in journalism from Turkey.1992–1993). Many of the articles I refer to were written as reactions to current events. In this way the minority is opening up to the world around it. The other part of the project was to modernise Turkey in . The Most Turbulent Decade of the Minority Press. Before I continue with a more chronological presentation of events. Part 2. In later years Millet (Nation) Xanthi (2005–) has sailed up as a new ambitious alternative with a team of writers. who contribute with regular columns about a variety of subjects. Cumhuriyet (Republic) Komotini (2003-) and Birlik (Unity) Komotini (2007–). In particular. A new an interesting initiative has been the monthly periodical Azınlıkça (Minority Matters) (2004–). its more elitist approach probably appeals to a more limited segment of the minority. Pomaks.15 – newcomers. and is transcending its traditional introspective character. Rodop Rüzgarı (Rhodope winds) Komotini (2001–2008). It is also considered to express closely the political preferences of Turkey. but there are also many that were written retrospectively as new information put old events in a new light and since it took time for the writers to “digest” what had happened. it is necessary to obtain a basic grasp of some central features of Turkish nationalism. but when it finally picked up momentum it arrived with a vengeance. It was for a long time considered to be the newspaper closest to the Turkish consulate and therefore expressing orthodox Turkish opinions. including articles by Greek scholars and others who are interested in minority issues. when the minority went through an internal crisis. It has been able to gather writers from both inside and outside the minority who write on a number of subjects.. One part of the project was to create a common Turkish identity in a society where identity previously had been primarily religious. such as Albanians. In the following I would like to have a closer look at the content and style of the minority press. The main emphasis will be on the period 1985-1995.
In the Turkish context to be a nationalist also means to be a modernist. The book gives a good insight into the Turkish discourse. He went to school in Turkey during the late 1950s and represents the second wave of Kemalist influence in Western Thrace..1958). We must remember that during this period only a handful of minority members were able to read a Greek newspaper and this provided unscrupulous leaders with enormous leverage 25 For a presentation of these principles. The break with the past was clearly expressed by Kemal’s choice to change from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet.1988). Hatipoğlu wrote in his newspaper Akın that those who wanted to prove that they had Turkish blood in their veins must vote for him. In the context of Western Thrace. the teacher Enver Kasapoğlu has a very similar presentation in an article written on the occasion of the anniversary of Atatürk’s death (Yankı (Echo) 39/11.25 The connection between modernism and nationalism is often evident in the minority press.16 – order to bring the country on par with Europe on a cultural and material level. as it is reproduced with little critical distance.03. idealist etc. and “Statism” (Devletçilik). see (Shaw and Shaw 1977: 373–395). as opposed to the Arabic. On the other hand. In the 1950s the modernising project had its most prominent proponent in the Xanthi MP Osman Nuri Fettahoğlu who wrote: Our chief principle as a National minority.26 In the case of his rival Hasan Hatipoğlu the Turkish nationalism degenerated into bigotry. In a Turkish context the Latin alphabet is often called the Turkish alphabet. In the context of elections he considered it to be the “national and religious duty of both groups that the Turks vote for the Turks while the Greek Orthodox [rum] vote for the Greek Orthodox” (Trakya 654/14. it has also inspired a virulent nationalism that is highly bigoted and selfcentred as can be seen in the Turkish extreme right parties (Ağaoğulları 1987). 26 This idea of separate political existence was also evident in the two most recent general elections (2007 and 2009) where the slogan was Türk’ün Oyu Türk’e.. “Populism” (Halkçılık). and represents one of the symbols of Turkish nationalism. and is generally a very positively laden word.02. that is “The Turk should vote for the Turk. is to try to be on the same economic and cultural level as the majority without sacrificing our national integrity [bütünlük] and protecting our integrity in every respect (Trakya 877/18. “Secularism” (Layiklik).05. and the road to a modern education went hand in hand with nationalist ideology. This caused Osman Nuri to accuse him of nazi ideology and trying to make the voting ballots into a blood test (Trakya 733/26.1956). Sometimes these two projects went hand in hand.” . “Nationalism” (Milliyetçilik).1964). Another aspect of Hatipoğlu’s early career was his condescending and manipulative attitudes towards his voters.11. where he would try to extort the vote by playing on the minority members’ national sentiment. There was no other model available. The ideas and policies known as “Kemalism” (Atatürkçülük) were during the first years of the republic presented under certain slogans such as “Republicanism” (Cumhuriyetçilik). “Revolutionism” (Inkılâpçılık/Devrimcilik).
After the drastic reduction of the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey.. In Greece the minority continued to view itself first and foremost as a separate community. İbram Onsunoğlu refers to the period 1967-1991 as the “Great Expulsion policy” (Büyük Kovma siyaseti). the discrimination had to take place in a covert fashion. This should be seen in connection with the Ottoman version of “multiculturalism” where people lived side by side in “closed communities” and the contact between people of different faith was restricted. Azınlıkça – Sayı 40 Ekim 2008. The discrimination The single most important factor influencing the minority’s political behaviour after 1974 was the effects of the systematic discrimination against it initiated during the Military Dictatorship (1967-1974). The discrimination continued.” Much of it was based on secret directives and administered locally. however. Since Greece was better integrated in European structures than Turkey. One glaring example concerns the 1958 elections when the owners of Akın ran for different parties. It has later been referred to as “administrative harassment. Since many of the measures were introduced during the military dictatorship the minority first perceived them to be specific to this regime. In recent times scholars who write about the minority mention almost routinely the previous discrimination regime. also after 1974. When I first started to take an interest in the minority Greece was still trying to deny accusations of discrimination. These administrative practices prevented systematically most Muslims from acquiring property and performing even routine matters such as obtaining bank loans or driving licenses.28 I will briefly explain the basic tenets of this policy. Onsunoğlu. Marriages across the religious divide were for example unthinkable under normal circumstances. . The conservative leaders would play on the religious sentiment to keep the minority voters united and accuse those who did not vote for them of not being Muslims. Thus both the conservatives and the modernists were essentially treating the minority as a separate community that should live a parallel existence to the Greek Orthodox majority. “Salahaddin Galip'in ardından – I”.1958).27 Within the minority. and cared more about its outward image.17 – to manipulate them. Many minority members were stripped of their Greek citizenship by the 27 See for 28 İbram example Dragonas (2006: 23-24) and Anagnostou (2005: 8-9). Since they could not both promote their party as the best choice for the minority.04. but this position was left untenable after a Helsinki Watch report pointed out many of the gravest measures (Whitman 1990). they solved this problem by printing separate editions of Akın in Komotini and Xanthi (Trakya 731/21. Greece sought to find ways to induce a similar reduction of its Muslim minority. It is first of all connected to the minority’s position in Greek-Turkish relations.
the minority reacted by rejecting the old leadership and rallied behind young candidates with university education in the 1977 election. As has often been the case. The combined votes of Hatipoğlu and İmamoğlu secured the election of the latter in the first distribution of seats. The minority perceived that the parties were looking for people they could control instead of someone who could represent the minority effectively. In the tense atmosphere after the Cyprus invasion in 1974. I have treated many of these issues in more detail before (Aarbakke 2000). who has the most thorough presentation of Greek administrative practices. As an MP İmamoğlu had no more luck in lifting the discriminations against the minority than his predecessors. . The discrimination affected the minority as a whole and contributed to its unification independently of ideological orientation. the nationalist right has not had problems with accepting minority candidates in order to gain some votes. In the 1981 elections he could not find a party to run for and the minority MPs on the socialist PASOK party and ND ballot tickets were considered to owe their position to their party loyalty. where I also present the minority’s reactions. but a local campaign by the Christian population closed this door to him. These restrictions on the minority’s socioeconomic rights were meant to induce the minority to leave and resulted in its estrangement from Greek society. As a consequence he and Hasan Hatipoğlu ran for the ultra-right Ethnikí Parátaksis (National Camp .. while the major partys’ reluctance to accept him indicates their preference for dealing with the minority issue within Greek-Turkish relations. He was a graduate of the Thessaloniki law faculty and became appointed lawyer by the Rodopi bar organisation in 1972. The old opposition between progressives and conservatives had abated and there was no great polemic between the two sides in the 1974 elections. His main problem was to find a party to run for. İmamoğlu would clearly have preferred to run for the conservative New Democracy party (ND). on the other hand. The election of İmamoğlu in 1977 tells us that the minority was still trying to solve its problem within the Greek political system. 29 Besides the aforementioned bibliography see Kostopoulos (2003).EP) led by Stefanos Stefanopulos. The Post-Junta Political Scene After 1974 the political landscape of the minority had changed significantly.18 – infamous article 19 of the citizenship code.01. there was a local campaign to restrict the minority’s political representation. İmamoğlu. It can be instructive to take a closer look at the example of Hasan İmamoğlu (1942–) in Rodopi.29 The minority schools were in such a state that many parents sent their children to Turkey for education when they were still in primary school. was framing the minority issue as a question of equal citizen rights (Gerçek 3/10.1978). Hatipoğlu based as usually his campaign on an extreme Turkish nationalism. When there was no progress in lifting the discrimination.
The main problem was the continued discrimination. such as the Turkish Teachers Association. The repercussions on Muslim minority in Greece is less known. but I know it both from the press and personal communications. it later turned into an embarrassment for Greece. Such a procedure gave new ammunition to those who claimed that the parties did not accept the strongest minority candidates on their tickets.19 – Some other factors that contributed towards creating a highly abnormal political climate in the minority came to the forefront in the next elections in 1985.31 Greece had excellent diplomatic relations with Bulgaria at the time and demagogues within the minority exploited the anxiety to hint at probable BulgarianGreek collusion in their minority policies. instead of using a mark of preference by the voters. Secondly. when the cases were brought before the European Court of Human Rights (Tsitselikis 2008). This was compounded by the decision to outlaw old established minority associations that had the epithet “Turk-Turkish” in their name in 1983.04.1987.30 This move. A further factor that Greece had probably not taken into consideration was the psychological effect on its minority created by the brutal Bulgarian campaign to change the names of its Muslim population. The minority politicians’ first concern was also to secure a place for themselves on the ticket of the major parties. 33 Akın 857/19. the Bulgarian campaign consult any standard work on Bulgarian Muslims. 32 For one characteristic example see Akın 926/14. This was compounded by the arrogant behaviour of a local ND party candidate. such as Eminov (1997). allegedly as retaliation against the declaration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.1997.10. Here. and remained in their consciousness.05. Hinting to that ND did not need a minority candidate with a strong following he said: “Even if ND presents a dunce [koútsouro] as candidate he will be elected. The emergence of the independent ballot ticket Bariş (Peace) in Xanthi was initially related to that the major parties had put the minority 30 See 31 For the paper by Antigoni Papanikolaou in this volume. In order to evaluate the election rhetoric. it estranged the minority and gave new ammunition to demagogues who fed on Turkish nationalism. The minority’s primary concern was to secure its representation through the established parties. First of all. It goes without saying that Greece could not adopt the same authoritarian measures as Bulgaria in 1985.11.. articles in the minority press look back on past events. however.”33 Such a statement was of course offensive to the minority.1990.1985 and 987/19. İleri 893/03. . This episode has been referred to repeatedly in the minority press.32 The 1985 Elections The system used for the 1985 elections had the candidates in the order of preference on the ballot decided beforehand by the party. as in many other instances. it is first necessary to understand properly the political situation. which was primarily directed against Turkey. created other problems for Greece.
hiding behind the rationale quoted above.. the initial rationale behind the initiative for an independent ticket was no longer valid. The initiative to an independent ticket was an attempt to put pressure on the parties to include minority candidates in an electable position. In Rodopi ND included the lawyer Mehmet Müftüoğlu (1939–1999). at that time these persons said the following to us: –Our struggle must be within the parties.1985 (original in Turkish). PASOK had lost prestige in the minority because of the continued discrimination and had little hope of attracting minority voters. We had the possibility to attack.05. When minority candidates were included in second place in Xanthi too. . Normally a MP would be respected as the natural political leader of the minority. In the 1985 elections they insisted on supporting an independent ticket that was harmful to minority interests in a Greek context. in second position on the ballot. but the discrimination and attitudes towards minority politicians presented the opposition with the possibility of presenting themselves as the “natural” leaders of the minority.” We have no possibility to “attack”. but the special conditions coupled with the leanings of some of those involved give a foreboding of the political crisis evolving within the minority.35 To a certain degree the adversaries to the party candidates within the minority could be seen within the framework of opposition politics. Hatipoğlu applied all his rhetorical skill to promote the independent ticket. the reasons are first of all related to the rivalry for leadership within the minority. Adülhalim Dede pointed this out in his newspaper: The [Greek] authorities attempt to portray us as Turkey’s agents and promote the image that the Western Thrace questions have been “created” as a result of instigation by Turkey. However. This is completely to the disadvantage of the [human rights] struggle we carry out on the European level. to make our voice heard. and consequently with no chance of election. who was well liked and a strong candidate. ignoring their previous arguments. Some local PASOK members thus decided to provide covert support to the independent candidates as a way of hurting ND by proxy. A further factor was PASOK’s clandestine support to the independent candidates. In the European elections they assisted the Greek parties for petty benefits. The Western Thrace issue is run as a “defence. If this is the case what reasoning makes them now create a front against the parties?34 Dede draws attention to the inconsistent behaviour of minority politicians. He argued that the minority should support the independent ticket to create unity within the 34 Trakya’nın 35 For Sesi 159/31. When minority politicians decided to run independently of the Greek parties. To oppose the parties means to oppose the state. in the 1984 European Parliament elections. This is an example of majority petty politics. a more thorough discussion with extensive references to the minority press see Aarbakke (2000: 285-286).20 – candidates in third place on their ballots.
Act according to this…(Trakya’nın Sesi 160/01.1985-original in Turkish). Suffering Western Thrace Muslim Turk. The minority had allegedly reached this conclusion as a reaction to the disgraceful way the parties tried to impose unacceptable candidates on the minority.05. . villagers. is insisted on. which belittle it! (Akın 859/29.05. Besides. Islam is another reference. The independent candidates would be outside the party discipline.1985). which insult it. This is the parole of Our Minority in the historical elections: NO to the parties which do not extend their hand of compassion to our Community.21 – minority.05. In the village Oreo the imam made the following statement the visit of the independent candidates: Honoured congregation [cemaat]. In Xanthi the independents blamed the parties for various intrigues against the minority and promoted themselves as the minority’s own party. using the terminology preferred by the Greek authorities. The mentality that belittles you. Show to those who regard you in this way that you are from the Exalted Turkish Race. Hatipoğlu’s played as usual on Turkish nationalism and would attack other candidates who at various times had referred to the minority as Muslim.06.05. The time has come to prove once more after Lausanne that you are not an ignorant community.1985). it was easy for Müftüoğlu (the ND candidate) to point out that the independent candidates who now criticised ND had done everything to enter its ticket (İleri 388/24.1985-original in Turkish). those who do not vote for the independent candidates are not Turks. and that you are an honourable and strong Community. the party MPs were under very strict control. regarding you as a heap of religious people without personality. Hatipoğlu attempted to present himself as someone who conveyed public opinion instead of someone who tried to manipulate it. and not Muslims. May the hands of those who vote for other than the independents wither up. He alleged that ND both threatened and promised money to Sabahaddin Galip if he would refrain from running as independent candidate (Akın 858/24.05. and have much more room for taking initiatives (Akın 857/19. While the emphasis above is on the Kemalist version of Turkish identity.1985).. (Akın 860/31. In its propaganda it played strongly on the religious and national sentiment of the minority (Barış 19. posses the faith and knowledge of the great religion of Islam. but the esteemed Western Thrace Turkish Minority. Both principles are used as rallying points to pool the minority votes to the independent candidates. On the other hand.1985).05. see representatives of other countries. The result of your votes will simultaneously make clear your personality. The independent candidate Sabahaddin Galip also flied the banner of Turkish nationalism in his appeal to the voters and said inter alia. They could not give declarations to newspapers without asking the party.1985-original in Turkish). etc. we believe with all our heart that the HOLY UNION AND SOLIDARITY MONUMENT which has been erected by virtue of the decision by the great majority of our Minority for the first time in its 60-year history will not crumble.
. he would also deny allegations of oppression against the minority when interviewed by an emigre periodical in Turkey (Batı Trakya’nın Sesi 4/ May-June 1988). In addition to Müftüoğlu in Rodopi the minority also elected an MP in Xanthi. He did not only flatter PASOK when he was interviewed in the Greek press (Ta Nea 21. and democracy.07. such as “Your son who studies in Turkey. The Government respects us and embraces you who live in this remote area of ours.1985). Especially when he spoke about the Prime minister’s particular love (!) for us. Ahmet Faikoğlu (1947-).08. Turkish newspapers and television displayed a preference for ND because of its more conciliatory foreign policy compared to PASOK. and this worked against the independent ticket in Xanthi (İleri 392/21. freedom.1985). It is an honour for us Muslims to live here as Greek citizens.1987-original in Turkish).22 – Hundreds of minority members were worried because they were threatened with retaliation by adherents of the independents if they did not vote for Barış. will not get visa any longer” (Trakya’nın Sesi 163/05. Ahmet [Faikoğlu] with these words: …… I am here to bring you Prime minister Andreas Papandreu’s warm greetings and congratulations for our holy holidays. however. Faikoğlu was rarely the target of criticism in the minority press. During his tenure as PASOK MP.1985). and it is also an indication of the tougher rivalry in the Komotini area. they were addressed by Mr. We live in a civilised country WHICH TEACHES civilisation. He is an interesting figure because of his total political reorientation in 1989 when he crossed over to the independent ticket.06.. he appeared as a loyal and dedicated party cadre. This is a further indication of that personal rivalries were often more important than political principles. In spite of this.36 They directed their fire towards Müftüoğlu who worked sincerely and conscientiously to solve the problems of the minority. His exaggerated praise of PASOK was referred to with disdain in the minority press: On the third day of the holiday [bayram]. The New Interest Group It should be noted that after 1974 gradually a new interest group had been created that was independent of the old progressive-conservative division. Ahmet used several similar sentences. after the Muslims of Kimmeria (Koyunköy) had ended their Friday prayer which enveloped them in endless recitals of God’s greatness. In its initial stages Hasan 36 Here I am referring to my own experience since I am very well acquainted with minority newspapers for this period.06. In reality there was not a concerted effort by Turkey to support the independent candidates at this point. You are the objects of the Government’s and our Prime minister’s personal love.” Mr. there were people who curled their lips [in disdain] and gave a cold-shoulder of course (Gerçek 177/31. Faikoğlu had earlier worked in the Xanthi mufti office and was close to Mehmet Emin Aga who headed the Bariş ticket.
I will mainly refer to it in the following as the Clique. etc. would later refer to it as the “minority mafia” (azınlık mafyası). In order to keep control over the minority and its function as a bargaining chip in Greek-Turkish relations the consulate chose to sabotage the minority’s attempt to create a democratic organisation. In a meeting at the Komotini mufti office the two “mafia godfathers” Hasan Hatipoğlu and Mehmet Emin Aga tried without success to declare the two minority MPs Hasan ‹mamoğlu and Celal Zeybek to be traitors in their absence (Trakya’nın Sesi 414/19. Those who opposed the interests of these people and distanced themselves from them were routinely accused of being traitors.37 Onsunoğlu. more often than not there had been no actual meeting of it or any clear procedure for selecting its members. 39 This group that drew its power from Turkey included some central and some more peripheral figures. anti minority. Among the more common are the “Clique” (klika). this same group would later present itself as the Executive Committee of the Supreme Minority Council (Azınlık Yüksek Kurulu -Yürütme Komitesi). With the benefit of hindsight it has become clear that this development did not only disturb the Greek authorities.09.03. 38 A detailed presentation of the relevant events can be found in Aarbakke (2000: 299-355).1992).38 After sabotaging the attempts at organising the minority. who was one of its foremost critics. Onsunoğlu names some of the more central figures specifically in one of his articles: “Who said that I am .39 In the local elections one year later the same group that previously supported 37 In the 1980s the newspapers Akın and Gerçek were part of this interest group. “gang” (kumpanya) and “freeloaders” (haziryiyiciler). such as large-scale expropriations. The latter was son of the mufti and had earlier belonged to the conservative camp collaborating with the Greek authorities. anti Turkish. When it referred to decisions by the Executive Committee. The emergence of this new interest group is amply documented in the minority press. which presented it under various names.. who in turn increased their power by enjoying the favour of the consulate.23 – Hatipoğlu played a key role in Komotini and Mehmet Emin Aga in Xanthi. Both had long experience in broking minority affairs towards both Greek and Turkish authorities. (İleri 400/20. This was done through people under its influence. This interest group stood behind the independent alternative in the 1985 elections and supported indirectly PASOK. since this was the word most commonly in use for them. This was a euphemism for the group most often referred to as the “Clique” by other than themselves. while criticism against it appeared mainly in İleri and Trakya’nın Sesi. He regarded the first minority conflict influenced by mafia methods to have taken place in 1980 in connection with the new law for the minority pious foundations (Vakıf). but also the Turkish consulate since some minority members took initiatives without previous “authorisation” from it.1985). There had been an attempt to create a minority umbrella organisation to confront various initiatives by the Greek authorities that targeted the minority.
preventing their children to complete their education or simply denying their entry to Turkey. the so-called “deep state.01.. see also http://en. The Xanthi mufti gave ample space to the protest march in his message on the occasion of the religious holiday Regaip Kandili (commemoration of the conception of the Prophet Muhammad) and wrote inter alia: The people who poured out into the streets excitingly claiming their legal rights. these people who were claiming their rights are elevated. however.1986). Sabahaddin Emin. I wish with my most sincere feelings that my not afraid of the mafia? Of Hafız Aga. and made heroes. but the bonds had become more tangible because of its precarious position in Greece.40 Hatipoğlu had always posed as the representative of Turkey—not always with authorisation—but it became a whole different matter when Turkey threatened to impose sanctions on those who did not accept the leaders it imposed on the minority. while it is much easier to pinpoint now on the background of subsequent events. Ahmet Faikoğlu. These changes became only gradually apparent for the minority. This is another example of the minority’s lack of integration into Greek political structures. which made their participation a matter of ephemeral deals on the eve of elections. The last measure became known as the “Black List” and would occupy a prominent position in the minority press. This included measures such as sequestering property owned by minority members in Turkey. Andreas Stoyannidis.org/wiki/Ergenekon_(organization). that the Clique did not as yet have a decisive grip on the voters (Trakya’nın Sesi 219/31.24 – PASOK rallied behind the ND mayor candidate in Komotini. Aydın M. Arif?” (Trakya’nın Sesi 407/16. . The minority had always had cultural and emotional ties to Turkey. humiliated by the bad treatment they received from the state’s security forces. we have to keep in mind how the overall framework of minority politics was changing. but as exasperation grew within the minority it became a central issue.org/wiki/Deep_state. İbrahim Şerif. Sadık Ahmet. 40 Those who are unfamiliar with Turkish politics can find a basic presentation of the “Deep State” at: http://en. Rodoplu. but it took the credit for it afterwards when the Greek authorities cracked down on it. Ultra-nationalist circles in Turkey that had infiltrated the state apparatus.wikipedia. crowned with honour. Hasan Hatipoğlu. It became clear from the election results.wikipedia. At first it was just alluded to.1992-original in Turkish). The Clique did not play such a prominent role in organising the protest. The New Power Relations Within the Minority In order to evaluate properly the developments in the minority press.” were now bent on exploiting this in order to take control of the minority leadership.10. One important milestone is the demonstrations 28-29 January 1988 organised to protest against the Greek authorities final decision by the Supreme Court to prohibit the continued existence of minority association with the epithet “Turkish” in their name.
Those of our kinsmen who did not take part in the march.1988-origional in Turksh) and (Gerçek 197/20. Hatipoğlu was quick to counter him: Honourable Müftüoğlu. Besides the highly distorted portrayal of the situation in Thrace.01.02.1988-original in Turkish). When the minority MP Müftüoğlu tried to raise the issue as an illegitimate intervention to chasten the minority. Let us see what you are made of my young lion?” (Gerçek 213/22. we expect from this newspaper [Trakya’nın Sesi] that first made such a revelation to write openly the names of those who need to have visa to enter Turkey. unfair fines for over 30 millions have broken the back of the shop owners.1988).” (Milliyet 28. the word Turk can definitely not be mentioned. the great sensitivity you showed in this matter.02. but is essentially an exercise in bigotry. property.10. […] they hold their last hopes in the National Struggle Committee founded under the leadership of the mufti of Xanthi.1988-original in Turkish). As foreigners we have no rights to say anything in this matter. and their newspapers can be closed any moment.. AND SEND MY LOVE TO EACH ONE OF THEM. Rodoplu countered denouncements of the Black List in a similar manner: “Since we did not know such a thing. in your Press Announcement you mention that some people have been prohibited from entering Turkey. May God reward them all! Characteristically the message was printed in both (Akın 938/17.1988-original in Turkish). we will die defending our rights. they screamed with their hearts their OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO OUR ISLAMISM AND TURKISM. […] “Whatever happens it cannot be worse. the expropriations of fields ready to be sown have condemned the farmer to hunger. More seriously. I CONGRATULATE THE HOLY WARRIORS.07.25 – religious brothers who were exposed to bad treatment will soon be well. the Turkish secondary schools and associations have been closed. In this statement Hatipoğlu is playing on the fears and sensitivities of the minority. Hatipoğlu and Rodoplu painted a bleak picture of the situation in Greece in an interview to a major Turkish newspaper and glorified their own role: The newspaper owners remind us that security for life. The idea is to brandish his power and promote the legitimacy of the measures by stigmatising these people as traitors. If the next stop is death. who for some reason could not leave their house Friday 29 January. However. it cannot be more oppressive. did you show that when our fatherland Greece stripped the citizenship arbitrarily from thousands of our kinsmen? (Akın 960/05. but the tone was set. took part in this historical march with their hearts. it is hard to imagine what kind of struggle to death was going to take place under the leadership of the bed ridden old mufti of Xanthi. the sanctions against those who did not confirm with Turkish policy had become increasingly perceptible. He is not asking for clarification because he lacks information about what is going on. Please be clear? Who are these people? Our Minority insists that you make clear this matter. It is also worth to notice that while . and education is gone. In other instances it becomes even clearer that these people are not any longer operating within the Greek political system. but are appealing exclusively to a Turkish nationalist agenda. The double reference to religion and nationalism does not involve any clear ideological programme. The Turkish State accepts some and refuses others to enter its borders.
01. The Greek discrimination had increased the minority’s dependence on Turkey and forces in Turkey were no ready to exploit this.1992-original in Turkish). And suddenly. Greece had tried to embarrass Turkey by raising questions of human rights violations and . The hunger strike lasted just a couple of hours before he got a phone call from the president of the Western Thrace Solidarity Association in Istanbul who among other things threatened with retaliations against his children who lived in Turkey at the time. he suddenly calls it a foreign power that the minority has no right to interfere with. Hatipoğlu is as usual exploiting the minority’s emotional attachment to Turkey. in Turkey] they will get your legs broken. the social benefits [from the consulate to unemployed teachers etc. and suddenly you are not allowed to enter Turkey. but with the Black List looming in the background there is also a tangible threat of sanctions against those who oppose him. In the late 1980s Greek-Turkish relations were at a low point. A more sober evaluation of the phenomenon was made by İbram Onsunoğlu who attempted to analyse the mechanisms involved. The people who supposedly wanted “clarification” started rumours as to who had been refused entry to Turkey in order to reprove them to the minority. although the “mafia” would make sure that it reached the ears of everybody. He pointed out that “mud slinging” had always been a part of minority politics. however. He mentioned by name many leading minority politicians who were on the Black List. Suddenly. but he would later reveal the incident in his newspaper (İleri 540/20. and make any contact with them suspicious. but it became a whole different matter when Turkey put its “seal of approval” on the “traitor” accusations. nationality. A feeling of shame and anger […] One move from the mafia. Suddenly. With the advent of the Black List the ground rules of minority politics had changed completely and this would become abundantly clear in the 1989 parliamentary elections.] you receive are stopped. The picture is not complete. They say that on the other side [i. From the point of view of the minority community’s national and social values they admit to have suffered the greatest insults.26 – Hatipoğlu usually referred to Turkey as the mother country.1989). This made Hâki step down. without saying a few words about Sadık Ahmet (1947-1995). you see that your friends start to look at you in a different way.e. the customers of your shop are halved… And what did not happen afterwards? (Trakya’nın Sesi 407/16. None of them would admit it and tried to pretend that nothing was wrong.1. you see that you have been declared pro-infidel. Hâki reacted emotionally and put up a sign outside his office announcing he went on hunger strike after he had been turned back at the border for the second time. Basic categories of allegiance such as citizenship. Those who were refused entry to Turkey came in a very awkward situation that they were unprepared to deal with. ethnicity and religion are appealed to selectively according to circumstances. Suddenly. and they are broken. During the last years I know the adventures of dozens of people who have been the object of the anger of the Özal-Yılmaz regime and their Shrew within the Minority the mafia.. Very few had the strength to stand up and criticise the application of the Black List.
The first was related to that the minority had not been able to solve its problems through the parties. The 1989-1990 General Elections In the 18 June 1989 elections Sadık teamed up with Rodoplu and the lawyer Sabahaddin Emin to form the independent ticket Güven (Trust). The question of internationalisation was presented in a rather simplistic manner: The strong voice which the “TRUST” ticket will bring to parliament. it needed a front figure from Thrace under its control.27 – discrimination of Kurds in various international forums. it was also a recurrent theme in the Athenian press before the election that it would not be possible to control an independent MP. For various reasons. and probably by a premature decision.1989-original in Turkish). In particular Sadık displayed no understanding for procedures. The Güven ticket had two main lines of argument in their election propaganda. and attract the attention of the free world to Thrace. Incidentally. One of the alleged consequences of the party discipline was that the minority MPs had not been able to present the discrimination of the minority to human rights organisations. It should be noted that before the election many still thought that an independent ticket was only a last resort for those who were not accepted on a party ticket. will scream out the rights which the Greek Constitution and the Lausanne Treaty recognise to us. Sadık Ahmet. but its early appearance two months before the election shows that it was no longer an ad hoc arrangement. the choice fell on Sadık. It was only in the course of the election campaign that it became clear for everybody—to the dismay of the other two on the ticket who had their own ambitions—that Turkey had selected Sadık.05. He had studied medicine in Thessaloniki and had been occupied with his professional career until his plans to obtain a position in a public hospital proved futile. He was an educated person. a candidate from the Western Thrace independent Turkish list bellows: “I will give the Greek government three days respite from the 19th of the month. In order to start a human rights campaign against Greece.. but presented it as if it was a simple question of him explaining the problems to international leaders: Dr. If the Greek government does not put the . because the MPs were controlled by the party discipline. We can look at these two themes in more detail. The clear goal of the Independent “TRUST” ticket is to display the Western Thrace reality in all openness to the international organisations that are against human discrimination and know that right is right and a human being is a human being (Gerçek 241/04. however. This had angered Turkey and the situation in Greek Thrace provided it with the ammunition to return the favour. The second was related to the question of the minority’s identity. The Human Rights conference in Paris will last until the 23th of the month. energetic and unlike many other minority members— because his lack of previous involvement—he did not have an embarrassing political past.
1989). Dede remarked wryly that Sadık did not know enough French to explain anything (Trakya’nın Sesi 323/06. Those who permit one of the greatest insults to our Minority by saying “We the Greek Muslims” in the documents they submitted to the Greek Parliament when they were MPs.06. against whom he had a personal grudge since loosing out to him when they ran on the same ticket in the 1977 elections. but they were also guided by the sound principle that the minority’s problems had first of all to be addressed through the Greek political system. Those who regard the defence of our minority’s rights outside the country perfidious towards Greece and those collaborators who know very well whom they serve should bear this in mind: NEITHER YOU NOR YOUR CHRISTIAN MASTERS CAN ANY LONGER FRIGHTEN THE WESTERN THRACE MUSLIM TURKS! IN THESE ELECTIONS THE WESTERN THRACE TURKS ARE STRUGGLING FOR TURKISM. Hatipoğlu found ammunition for mud-slinging by digging deep in his archive after episodes where İmamoğlu had expressed his loyalty to Greece (Akın 984/12. He was particularly venomous towards İmamoğlu.42 These arguments are a combination of accumulated grudges against the Greek administration and Turkish nationalist rhetoric. Those who dispersed threats towards our Minority as the voice of the party they are collaborating with. great pain will be inflicted on our people. Hatipoğlu joined the chorus with his formidable rhetoric skill. this was immediately brushed off as threats by the “party collaborators” and answered in the following manner: Those who regard it an insult to them when they are called TURKS. This created an atmosphere of polarisation. In their election speeches they routinely referred to them as collaborators. etc. 42 Bağımsız Güven 7/15.1989. traitors. When some of the minority party candidates warned that the fierce propaganda of the independents could harm the minority’s cause. The person who appealed most to the villagers was Sadık Ahmet. Those who say I feel myself to be a GREEK.06.1989).. Those who say with the voice of the Greek authorities that if the Independent Tickets are supported.28 – situation in order in Western Thrace I will go to Paris… I will explain the situation in Western Thrace to Mitterand in French. in which the independent ticket was presented as the only legitimate choice. Those who find the spiritual tie of our Minority members with the Motherland Turkey senseless. He had visited many of the villages as a doctor and since he grew up in a village himself he was closer to the village mentality than politicians from 41 Hürriyet 15.07.”41 The independent candidates engaged in a fierce polemics against the minority candidates on Greek party tickets. NEITHER THE GREEK MASTERS NOR THEIR COLLABORATORS CAN PREVENT THE VICTORY OF THIS STRUGGLE. The party candidates had of course a legitimacy problem because of the discrimination regime.06. sold out. Hatipoğlu employed similar arguments in Akın 984/12.1989 (Istanbul-original in Turkish).1989-original in Turkish. .06.
In connection with the 1974 elections. The real “battleground” had always between Greece and Turkey and the minority members would have to adjust their terminology according to the framework they were operating in. In spite of the fierce rhetoric above it should be stressed that there was no real disagreement about the minority’s identity between the independent and the party candidates. or “-The Greek women will work in the cotton fields! They will become our workers!” (İleri 712/09. and that the solutions had to be worked out in understanding with the majority.. When the police came to monitor his election meeting he would cry out “Look.29 – the urban elite. The Christian candidates would promise a couple of driving licences or other permits for a specified number of votes. and by realising the second threat he left hundreds of people without a permit (İleri 107/03. however. As long as the minority candidates ran for the established parties there was also the question of party discipline.04. Greece and Turkey had always tried to influence the political organisation of the minority by a combination of stick and carrot measures. the donkeys are coming” to the astonishment of the villagers who were used to fear and respect the authorities. all of them would in common parlance refer to the minority as Turkish.09. which was the officially accepted terminology (Güven 4/05. Last but not least we have the question of coercion. without always keeping their promises. In the 18 June 1989 elections. for example. meant that Greece could no longer control the minority with traditional authoritarian measures. He would state in the aftermath of the elections: .1993). Besides his promises to bring Greece on its knees. When Sadık Ahmet submitted a memorandum in parliament about minority education it was returned to him the next day so that he could correct his wording “Turkish-Muslim minority” and write “Muslim minority”.1989). he also had some curious statements such as: “Those we made coffee for until today are now going to make our coffee” (Trakya’nın Sesi 321/23. There was of course no possibility for the minority to impose the terminology of its choice. His position was founded on the basic perception that the minority is the weaker part in the relation with the Greek majority. The most vocal critic of the new political landscape was İbram Onsunoğlu who ran on the ND ticket.03. growing dependence on Turkey and Turkish pressure.1978-original in Turkish). the combination of exasperation with the discrimination. Another well-proven method was the temporary slackening of the discriminatory measures. Hâki mentioned the following message from a Greek official to the minority members: If they voted for the Turkish candidates he threatened that he would make minced meat of them— this was the phrase used—and take away their tobacco growing permits.1989).06.
but he now became the target of legal persecution. which would supply ammunition to anti-minority powers at a time when the just complaints of the minority had started to gain acceptance among democratically minded forces in the majority population.43 This echoes the arguments used by the press organ of the Güven ticket. beginning 29 November. It was the ‘independents’ and their company. He was unable to run in the 5 November election because of a small formal mistake in his registration. Human rights lawyers arrived from abroad to attend the trial. He was released just in time for the 10 April elections. The lack of a stable government alternative led to three subsequent elections (18 June. The judge asked 43 Milliyet 08. During this period the Greek authorities tried to regain control over the minority with traditional authoritarian measures. Sadık had toned down his rhetoric considerable since his election.. .” (Kourtovik 1997: 250-252). A Turkish journalist hailed Sadık as “The symbol of the Western Thrace Turkish minority. A Helsinki Watch report termed the trial in January 1990 as “perhaps the most egregious Greek action denying the ethnic identity of the Turkish minority” […] “When the defendants told the court that they were of Turkish origin. and Sadık lost his parliamentary immunity. ‘Then why don’t you go to Turkey’.1990). As a result Rodoplu was elected on the independent ticket. the judges shouted back. by Sema Emiroğlu. Turkish diplomacy remained very active during this period. In this case. Helsinki Watch has picked up a Turkish misrepresentation. The prosecution was based on two ambiguous clauses in the Greek Penal Code (§101 and §192) concerning “spreading false information” and “disrupting the public peace. This led to a new mobilisation of the minority.30 – The Greek authorities have during the last ten days of these elections once again trampled on the human rights of the Minority because of the ‘independent’ candidates.” It was claimed that his only crime was that he had called the minority Turkish.1989-original in Turkish).07. 5 November 1989 and 10 April 1990). Sadık was now subjected to a series of trials.” (Whitman 1990: 17-19). which claimed that its only crime was to call the minority Turkish and inform the public about the discrimination (Güven 19/16. But this time it was others who came first in not respecting human rights.1990 (Istanbul-original in Turkish). after Turkey had mobilised the solidarity associations of Western Thracians in Germany and Turkey. Sadık was first sentenced to 18 months and spent the beginning of 1990 in prison until the sentence was reduced to 15 months and converted to a fine in the appeal of 30 March.01.01. The trials of Sadık did not stand up to international scrutiny and became an embarrassment for Greece. The authorities came in second place (Denge 4/05. and Turkish MPs also arrived to witness the trials. “Plaintiff from Athens”. He was clearly concerned about the reckless behaviour of the independent candidates.
44 There is a problem with terminology since some of the terms used in human right reports do not correspond with the Greek and Turkish conceptual framework. On the other hand. but used it for demagogic purposes. I can add that when some journalists interviewed the local Metropolitan Damaskinos. There is.03. Trakya’nın Sesi 349/30. “although the interviewer used the term ‘Muslim minority’ respondents often used spontaneously the label ‘Turks’ and would then correct themselves afterwards.03. For the position of Andreas Politakis see his “open letter to the Turkish people” in Avyi 15. See also (Siesby 1990).1990.. It should be noted that Erik Siesby too mentions in his report that the defendants had called themselves “Turkish nationals” in court (Siesby 1990). A recent article displays clearly how the Christian population struggles with reconciling contradictory concepts of identity. The Metropolitan replied: “Yes.02.” Dede asked ironically whether Sadık had become a traitor now that he said that he was of “Turkish descent. traditionally no corresponding term to “ethnic Turk” in Greek. When Sadık was in prison.03. came to the rescue and helped him to issue a statement where he said that he was “a Greek citizen. was asked to comment upon Sadık’s statement. they want to call themselves Turks to ask for autonomy tomorrow. ordinarily they are Turks. In the minority the guardians of Turkish nationalism accused Sadık of selling out by saying he was of “Turkish descent” and not a “Turk.02. who is renowned for his anti-Turkish and anti-minority attitude. when the PASOK MP for Xanthi. 45 For a facsimile of the hand written declaration see Thessaloniki 17. for example.1990.1990 and (Politakis 1988?). Panayiotis Sguridis.1990).31 – Sadık Ahmet if he was a Greek citizen (éllinas polítis). but not so in Thrace. so he answered no. 44 Hronos 25.01. or (Soltaridis 1990: 187). and Turkish descent. the chairman of the Greek-Turkish friendship committee in Athens. There is no commonly accepted terminology. of Muslim faith. However. It goes without saying that many minority politicians were not really interested in resolving the terminology problem.”45 This should be a fairly uncontroversial statement by usual standards. Interestingly.” (Eleftherotipia 15. with Greek citizenship/nationality (ellenikí ithayénia). they pointed out that he referred to the minority members as Turks in their conversation. One and the same term may be deemed acceptable or unacceptable depending on when it is used and by whom. .” (Figgou 2007: 446). and the term “ethnic” has not really become common parlance.02. Sadık must have been confused about the implications of the terms.1990). he responded that it was incorrect and that the minority members were “Greek Muslims” thus echoing the official Greek position (Eksormisi 25. Andreas Politakis.1990. Many of the arguments are really unintelligible for those who are not acquainted with Greek and Turkish nationalism.” (Trakya’nın Sesi 349/30.1998).
1990. An election campaign was not deemed necessary since it was already clear that Sadık would prevail. Sadık’s many travels abroad received conspicuous attention in the part of the minority press that was behind him. he found it much harder to further the minority’s cause in the Greek parliament than he had envisaged. This also meant that the efforts would be contingent on Turkish foreign policy priorities. he was presented as a hero in Turkey while he was vilified in the Greek press. everybody should vote for Sadık. In short. In the following years minority politics revolved to a large degree around Sadık Ahmet.1990 that had a 3% cut46 Milliyet 05. joined Sadık on the Güven ticket. He became elected in Xanthi with the backing of the same forces that were behind Sadık. The other development was the transformation of Ahmet Faikoğlu from a loyal PASOK cadre to a flaming Turkish nationalist. who were clearly included only as extras. He became a larger than life figure in both countries. He was often in Turkey where he was welcomed as the great champion of Turkish nationalism and received honorary doctorates. little he could do on in his own and in practice the human rights issue was often a tug of war by proxies between Greek and Turkish diplomacy.32 – The 10 April elections were very low-key compared to the two previous ones. While in previous elections minority politicians struggled to become accepted on the party tickets. and it certainly helped to increase his prestige within the minority. It was. “The votes to Sadık Ahmet”. Greek Counter Measures Two initiatives by the Greek authorities had an important bearing on the minority issue. He also became a front figure for presenting the case of a discriminated Turkish minority in international human rights forums. rather than the interests of minority members as Greek citizens. which he did with an unprecedented margin.04. The journalist Mustafa Hafız Mustafa (1945-1996) and the preacher Ahmet Hacıosman (1958-) made a declaration that they did not want any votes for themselves. and this makes it difficult to make a levelheaded presentation of his work. The ground rules of minority politics had been turned on its head.46 His previous fellow candidates had resigned for “personal reasons” in an unspoken protest against Turkey’s favouritism of Sadık. First. it had now become an exercise in futility to run for the parties. Although Sadık was not bound by party discipline. Two new candidates. Indeed. a new election law was passed in parliament 23. .10. Gradually his work as parliamentarian took a second place to his other activities. the minority candidates for the Greek parties found it futile to run under the reigning conditions. by Hülya Emin. however. The discrimination of the minority was of course a pressing problem that had been on the agenda for a long time..
“How the new elections law steals seats in parliament”.” Now he mentioned that the Muslim minority included people of various ethnic backgrounds: those of Turkish origin. and the Gypsies (Eleftherotipia 14. The other initiative was the aforementioned announcement of a new minority policy and admission of past “mistakes” by Konstantinos Mitsotakis during his visit to Thrace in May 1991..05. and a change had been imminent for a while. As seen before. The measure was not comparable to cut-off points in other European countries. This was not only the case for the majority. but also for many people in the minority leadership.1991).05.11. This closed effectively the door for future election of independent minority MPs. This terminology brought the Greek position more in line with the international terminology commonly in use that is mainly derived from western concepts of ethnicity. Minority Reactions to Greek Policies The political manoeuvring of the Clique in connection with Mitsotakis’s visit is most clearly revealed in the Turkish and the minority press.1990. The previous practice had been to insist that it was a religious minority and avoid any characterisation other than “Muslim. In this connection the great discrepancy between the minority politicians’ behaviour towards the Greek and the Turkish press should be noticed. by Ilias Nikolakopoulos and (Dodos 1994: 61–62). however. the Pomaks. this terminology did not necessarily sit comfortably with a Greek audience and it was definitely in conflict with basic tenets of Turkish nationalism. . Since the “minority regime” of active discrimination had been in force for several decades. They criticised Mitsotakis for not having scheduled a meeting with Sadık.47 Protests from Turkish diplomacy were quickly brushed off by pointing to the many idiosyncratic features of the Turkish election law (Kathimerini 28. The Greek minority policy had become untenable since it did not stand up to international scrutiny. but only for a part of the minority that was characterised to be of Turkish origin (Turkoyenís). The Turkish identity was at last acknowledged.1991).33 – off point on a national basis.10. who was the “minority’s official representative” (Gerçek 285/08.1990). it was natural that the change would provoke reactions from those who had an interest in its continuation. since in these countries they were not valid for the first distribution of votes or for single constituencies. They also condemned the fact that Mitsotakis would see people who 47 See Ta Nea 29.01. One interesting point in Mitsotakis’ speech was his redefinition of the Greek terminology for the minority’s identity. Part of the minority leadership had enhanced its position as brokers of the minority because of the Greek-Turkish controversy (İleri 578/22.1990).
This is followed up in Gerçek 287/31. and this had been written in the international press (Akın 1062/16.” (Trakya’nın Sesi 414/19. In many of the conflicts that were seemingly with the Greek authorities.06.05.05. see the article by Mustafa Hafız Mustafa in Akın 1031/23.3. The independent MPs stressed that the minority was one and Turkish (Akın 1030/17.34 – were “not accepted by the minority” (Milliyet 13.1991. Many of the conflicts in the early 1990s were related to the internal rivalry within the leadership that supported itself on Turkey. 44 February.48 A year later the mufti of Komotini. Onsunoğlu has repeatedly tried to deal critically with what he perceived as the illegitimate Turkish interference with the minority. issuing of new schoolbooks etc. On the one side the group known as the Clique was closest to official Turkish diplomacy and on the other Sadık Ahmet and his entourage supported himself on the ultranationalist circles known as the Deep State.1991. 46 April and 49 July 2009. The Clique’s response was related to its attempts to monopolise the representation of the minority towards both the Greek authorities and Turkey.1991. . This was sometimes done in a subtle manner such as pointing to the fact that the Greek administration had also maintained earlier that there was no discrimination. This led to an unprecedented amount of mud slinging and Turkish nationalism peddling in this segment of the minority press. In spite of this.07. Meço Cemali.05.05.06.1991 and Akın 1032/07.05.. although the process was not without friction. 48 For a good example of this approach. for example his articles in Azınlıkça no. the Clique tried to keep up its former rhetoric. Mitsotakis was in particular criticised for his statement that the minority was made up of three groups. such as the election of mufti. Hatipoğlu claimed that some inexperienced politicians had created great damage to the minority’s struggle by saying that the minority had started to obtain its rights after the promises of Mitsotakis. 49 When I did research in Thrace in 1993-1994 both the Clique and Sadık would make regular visits to Turkey and have their photos taken in company with important politicians in order to display the support they enjoyed.1992). alluding to the appointed mufti Meço Cemali. See.1992). Gerçek 286/21.1991). the most important aspect was in fact the internal power struggle. By now the dismantling of the old discrimination regime had indeed picked up momentum. It became gradually clear that this was a reflection of power relations between different centres in Turkey. while the others reacted against his attempt to take complete control.. Onsunoğlu would remark that: “The minority mafia is at each other’s throats exactly by using mafia methods. In addition the Clique tried to cultivate a climate of suspicion towards Mitsotakis’s intentions.1991).49 Sadık wanted to use the power behind him to become the undisputed leader of the minority.1992). declared that the fruits of Mitsotakis’ promises were showing (Eleftherotipia 25.
flatter him in the most repulsive way in the newspaper Balkan and became enraptured by it.1993. and England give an indication of his support outside Thrace (ibid. and human rights of the Western Thrace Muslim Turkish Community. and complaints about the “undemocratic 3% cut-off point” in the election law.02. In the conference Sadık said: “All my struggles will be directed towards the return of the civil. and the experienced journalist Mustafa Hafız Mustafa. complaints about Greek discrimination against the minority. which starts in Balkan 53/09. Eşitlik ve Bariş partisi-DEB). See also Sadık’s article series about the goals and purposes of the DEB party. He would soon claim that the party had 10. Mustafa promoted unabashedly Sadık as the great leader and compared his efforts with the National struggle of Atatürk. or the whole minority.000 members (DEB Partisi Gazetesi 4/10. minority. and was considered to be the brain of the team.1992). Mustafa was well aware of his role.50 The people of his team had little in common and must have joined forces because of external incentives or pressure.” there were polemics against the Clique.1996 and Batı Trakya’nın Sesi 76–77 March–August 1996. see Balkan 13/19.1992).1992. had embraced the party (Balkan 28/08.1992. one voice… A “base” fascism was established in the minority. One leader. one newspaper.04. This newspaper changed its name to Balkan after the sixth issue.1995. For the Statutes of the DEB Party. “Will we miss Sadık?” by İbram Onsunoğlu [original in Turkish] . The Balkan newspaper was first of all a propaganda vehicle for Sadık. 51 Balkan 9/14. This would later be increased to claims that tens of thousands. also those signed by Sadık. Mustafa Hafız Mustafa played a very important role. and in a conversation with other minority members present he referred jokingly to himself as the Goebbels of the party. He wrote nearly all the articles of the newspaper.”51 In the last sentence the keyword is “only. For an overview of the internal organisation.04. whom he had earlier referred to as agent of the Greek Secret Services in front of everybody.).03.35 – At this time Sadık founded the first political party of the minority. who had both joined his ticket in the April 1990 elections. 52 Trakya’nın Sesi 516/09. Equality and Peace party (Dostluk.08. see the obituaries in İleri 840/12. see the series which begins in İleri 672/24. A team was built around Sadık consisting of the preacher and politician Ahmet Hacıosman (today’s MP for PASOK). also known as Bacaksız.1992.” which indicates his conflict with the Clique.”52 Balkan was dominated by a limited set of themes.05.09. Germany. Bacaksız [that is Mustafa Hafız Mustafa]. The first party conference was set for 11–12 April 1992. Besides promoting the “great leader. The first issue of the DEB Partisi Gazetesi appeared in 11. The many congratulation messages from Solidarity Associations in Turkey. Mustafa did not really take political initiatives directed towards the Greek 50 For more information about Mustafa Hafız Mustafa. Onsunoğlu wrote in his obituary over Sadık: “He let M.1992.04. the Friendship.. from now on the only official voice of our community is the DEB party.03.
1994). 07.1992. and the members distinguished themselves by accusing each other in front of state authorities of being traitors. etc. too. Hatipoğlu presented a trip to Turkey under the title: “The second Ankara visit of our Executive Committee.06.1992.1992). our minority’s sole Decision Organ. Onsunoğlu would later sue Mustafa Hafız Mustafa for one of his articles. he accused Faikoğlu publicly of collaborating with the Greek government and the secret services. . Xanthi mufti office. and Hatipoğlu who insinuated that DEB was doing the job of the Greek authorities since it was against the Executive Committee (Balkan 10/21. Why is not the name Turkish used in this party? Our political strength that we developed by great efforts was “squandered. had called “Bacaksız” [Mustafa Hafız Mustafa] an 53 Akın 1062/16. 54 Günaydın 03. Hatipoğlu would as usual play on Turkish nationalism. in an effort to keep up the stereotypes and rally the minority more effectively around Sadık. 55 “Message of the virtuous Xanthi mufti on occasion of the religious feast”.1992).07.”53 The mutual accusations between Sadık and the Clique/Executive Committee took on ever more extreme forms. 5 June 1992.55 Hatipoğlu would refer covertly to Sadık as “mentally ill” (ruh hastası) (Akın 1063/28.04. Mustafa Hafız Mustafa engaged in polemics against Faikoğlu who had said that most DEB members were police informers..05.1992). “They still try to milk a billy-goat”.07. He tried rather to cultivate the minority’s suspicion against the authorities and the “Greeks” in general.1992 (original in Turkish). When Sadık participated in a conference in KütahyaTurkey. Because it is a Turkish party.54 The Executive Committee had also visited Turkey at this time.05.06. because the Yugoslav concept of nationality had no problems with the words Turk/Turkish. Greek agents. Mehmet Emin Aga. In his religious message on the occasion of the Festival of Sacrifices (kurban bayramı). When external pressure caused a temporary reconciliation between the two camps Dede remarked that Sadık. There was soon a full-blown conflict between the Clique and Sadık.05. On the other hand. See also the polemical answer in Balkan 22/21. If it had been called a Turkish party. who now posed side by side with the Executive Committee.1992. The comparison is of course pointless. referred to Sadık as “brainless” (beyinsiz). by İhsan Tunçoğlu.1992.1992. Türkeş would have sent a congratulation message here. to whom does the FRIENDSHIP-EQUALITY-PEACE Party belong? It is nothing else than the unconscious product of hysterical ambition.36 – authorities. the “elected mufti” of Xanthi.05. The relationship to Turkey was put on display in all its glory for reasons of prestige. (Trakya’nın Sesi 419/14. “Sadık accuses Faikoğlu of collaboration with the Greeks”. It was also referred to in Günaydın 02. Facsimile in Trakya’nın Sesi 419/14. and found an opportunity later when the ultra-right Turkish political leader Alpaslan Türkeş visited Macedonia: Türkeş did very well by congratulating the MACEDONIAN TURKISH PARTY.1992).02. and accuse him of being among the chief responsible for cultivating fascism in the minority (Aile Birlik 93/17. was very successful” (Akın 1061/06. Reprinted in Akın 1059/10. collaborators. sold.
Aga the enemy of Turkism.09. Hatipoğlu the main enemy of the minority. While earlier on the explicit goal was to elect as many minority MPs as possible.10. now every effort was made to rally the minority behind the independent candidates who had no possibility of being elected according to the new election law. and Şerif a scatterbrain mufti (Trakya’nın Sesi 440/10. After it became clear that he would not be accepted on a party ticket Sadık joined Rodoplu. He was ready to become candidate for whatever Greek party would accept him. the only minority candidates with a realistic chance of being elected would be those who ran on the party tickets.56 In Xanthi Ahmet Faikoğlu and Rasim Murcaoğlu were joined by Niyazi Avcı. which reflects credible information circulating in the minority at the time. no Greek party could take him on because of his general reputation in Greece.1993). probably after pressure from Ankara. by Simeon Soltaridis. who represented Sadık’s DEB party. Hâki commented dryly: “Sadık is going through a crisis because he is afraid he will not be able to become candidate for ND… The clique is going through a crisis because it is afraid that Sadık will become candidate for ND…” (İleri 727/10. For a more in depth account of the relationship between Sadık and Rodoplu during this period. . “Ankara pressures the vote of the Muslims”. With these developments. In some cases they came under fire by the adherents of Christian candidates. The adherents of Sadık would present as legitimate any action that could make him an MP.1992). Rodoplu a freeloader. In other words. By now minority politics had gone through a total transformation. In practice. see İleri 731/08. Faikoğlu a Greek secret service agent.09. the scene was set for a showdown between Sadık’s DEB party and the Clique. In spite of his vote potential in Rodopi. this led to an unholy alliance between the independent candidates and Christian nationalists. It was clear that Sadık had teemed up with Rodoplu and Faikoğlu only for the elections.. The independent candidates succeeded in obtaining almost all the minority votes and for the first time in its history the minority remained without parliamentary representation.09.12.37 – informer. The Executive Committee now took the initiative and made a declaration that it would participate in the elections with a revived Güven ticket (Gerçek 369/17.1993). The 10 October 1993 General Elections The confrontation came to a head before the general elections of 10 October 1993. and that he saw the elections as a contest where the marks of preference would show who was the leader of the minority. who could only be elected if the minority failed to elect representatives from its own ranks.1993. Another important aspect of the election result was 56 See Eleftherotipia 22.1993. Now they became the main targets of both the independent candidates and Greek nationalist circles.
In this connection Sadık was presented as a new Arafat who would go all over the world and continue the struggle until the minority had obtained all its rights. and lastly USA. In addition.” We said before the election that: If the Parliament in Athens does not want us. on the other hand. the only thing it would lose was the salary of an MP. Sadık’s initiatives in institutions such as the European Parliament. When it became clear that no Greek party would accept Sadık as their candidate the new slogan was: “If the parties do not want us in the Greek parliament.09. the various results of Dr..). Apart from this it was impossible to enumerate all the things the minority would gain. Onsunoğlu. by Mustafa Hafız Mustafa. The Independents Reach a Dead End There were signs that many people within the minority started to become concerned about these developments. not for the “World Parliament. afterwards Turkey. He would try to remind people that it was an election for parliamentary representation in Greece.38 – that Sadık prevailed completely in Rodopi and even made significant inroads into Xanthi with the candidate from his party. “‘World Parliaments’”. There was. He claimed that although this time the minority would not elect an MP.1993. Other times he was likened to Mandela. who did not even have the ability to satirise this slogan. the organisation around Sadık found it necessary to reiterate the benefits of his new “status. presented questions such as “So what is the World Parliament?” Now the time has come for us to explain to these poor people with a few examples what the World Parliaments are… Even though not even two months have passed since the 10 October election. Helsinki Watch.12.10. the elected representative of Western Thrace Turkism Dr.1993). As a leader he would allegedly be more respected throughout the world than as a simple MP. and stressed the need for greater internal democracy (İleri 730/01. opted for a sober approach in his election propaganda. The minority should rise above looking for petty interests such as being represented in the Greek parliament and rather send a representative to the World Parliaments (ibid. we will send a representative to the World Parliaments!” Some people. (original in Turkish) .” He was strongly critical of the anomalies in the minority culture that had developed after the election of the independent MPs in 1989. however.1993). and the Turkish parliament could also be mentioned in this connection. we will elect our deputy and send him to the WORLD PARLIAMENT” (Balkan 78/21. little they could do as long as 57 Balkan 95/07. Is it now understood what was meant by the expression “World Parliaments”?57 The relationship within the camp that was connected to Turkey continued to deteriorate. The propaganda machine behind Sadık had the difficult task of convincing people that it had been wise to vote for a candidate that had no hope of being elected and thus leave the minority without parliamentary representation. Sadık Ahmet has represented our community with the power he obtained from his voters first in parliaments or state organs of Germany. Sadık’s efforts to dominate the minority’s political scene had left all the others with a grudge against him. In face of the criticism.
Leading minority politicians claimed that the minority was left without parliamentary representation because of 58 Gerçek 387/16.39 – Sadıe had the greatest support from powerful circles in Turkey.[urkish] R. increasingly difficult to keep up appearances. and then from the MOTHER COUNTRY which is the sole guarantee of our existence?58 The approach is the familiar one of outbidding each other in Turkish nationalism.05. however. however.[rand] N. The epithet “circumcision doctor. It is a fact that Sadık was a trained surgeon. By now Sadık’s influence in Komotini town was clearly on the wane. and helped by his fame he would have a blooming business carrying out most of the circumcisions in Thrace.[ssembly] Human Rights Examination Commission who came to follow the trial. provided the last drop which made the cup overflow with his action on 12 April 1994 and displayed in all nakedness whom he serves.[ational] A. The famous (!) leader Dr.1994. wanting the Western Thrace Turkish Community to break each other.[epublic] Komotini General Consul Honourable Hakan Okçal in front of many civil and uniformed policemen. the circumcision doctor showered insults on our Mother Country’s Western Thrace representative T.05. Mehmet Emin Aga soon followed him up in his message to the believers in connection with the religious holiday Kurban Bayramı. is not particularly flattering.[urkish] G. however. It became. however. printed in Gerçek 388/20. The Turkish consul refused to comply and Sadık gave him a scolding in the middle of the street. and in front of Security and press personnel in the court room. In these our most difficult days did we not expect help first from God. A minority member who carries just a mote of Turkism feeling [Türklük duygusu] in his soul cannot keep himself from screaming out against your behaviour.1994 (original in Turkish). This provided Sadık’s rivals with an opportunity to get back on him that they jumped on immediately. and in the presence of the parliamentarians from the T. proved to be premature.. (original in Turkish) 59 The KURBAN BAYRAMI MESSAGE of the Xanthi Elected Mufti Mehmet Emin Aga. an opportunity would arise where they saw a chance of getting back on Sadık. . When I went to the second floor of the court building to appeal the sentence.” however. Soon. That day I was sentenced to 23 months because of the messages I signed (as Mufti of Xanthi). When the Turkish consul in Komotini followed the trial of the “elected” mufti Mehmet Emin Aga. that is slave of God] has made openly such a great insult to a representative of the sixty million strong Motherland Turkish Republic. Rodoplu was first to report: In the seventy years of the Minority’s history no man [Allahın kulu. “No reason can justify you! —Mr.” by İsmail Molla (Rodoplu). most of whom know Turkish. Sadık became jealous of the attention given to him and sought to prevent the Turkish MPs who arrived for the trial to accompany Aga to his house. Their hopes of getting back on Sadık. Sadık Ahmet who for four years has tried to introduce every kind of disorder and intrigue to damage our unity and solidarity. many local and foreign journalists […]. Sadık you should not have brought the matter this far.59 We can see the tone is deliberately chosen to be disrespectful.
and they were afraid of a repetition on the local level. (Trakya’nın Sesi 491/22. The leader of Politiki Aniksi. To Vima 02. Since the adherents of the independent ticket had to approach the parties. The 1996 General Elections This opened up the political landscape in Thrace again for the 1996 parliamentary elections.1994.10. 61 İbram Onsunoğlu mention this in his obituary “Will we miss Sadık?” by Trakya’nın Sesi 516/09. It was feared that attempts by Sadık and the Consulate to put on a display of strength could backfire and result in embarrassment. AND OUR HAPPINESS IS TWOFOLD SINCE THESE PEOPLE HAD TO EAT THEIR OWN WORDS. Sadık was by now beginning to fall out with his patrons in Turkey and his behaviour became more and more erratic. “They turn their backs to Sadık”.09. The Greek government also expressed its condolences. but there were naturally questions about how to proceed. I can mention the street named after him that runs in front of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. . Abdülhalim Dede remarked sarcastically: We are happy that the people who called us TRAITOR-PRO INFIDEL-MINORITY ENEMYSOLD—because we for six years have advocated a policy we believed to be in the interest of the minority—TURNED TO OUR POLICY. Attempts to organise the minority in front of the local elections in September 1994 proved more difficult than expected. Among the honours heaped on him. and had no other function than to exclude the minority from parliamentary representation. The minority was now faced with several dilemmas.1994 – Original in Turkish). There was also the question of who the Greek parties would accept as candidates.08. than through an independent ticket sponsored by Sadık. I also know about it from discussions with Sadık’s close collaborator Mustafa Hafız Mustafa and other minority members. “The Consul in Komotini behave as party leader”.60 Dede concluded that Sadık vanished in the local elections. On the other hand. EVEN IF IT HAPPENED AFTER SIX YEARS. several minority politicians had painted themselves into a corner with their fierce Turkish nationalist rhetoric and demagogy against the Greek political parties. Andonis 60 See Eleftherotipia 20.1995. It had reached a point where his patrons in Turkey were confronted with the delicate issue of how to dethrone the Turkish hero they had created. There was of course no reason to tarnish the Sadık myth after his death. High officials from Turkey attended his funeral and he secured a stellar place in the pantheon of Turkish nationalism. and on what conditions.61 Finally the issue resolved itself with Sadık’s untimely death in a car accident in July 1995. by Simeon Soltaridis. In Komotini the minority had better possibilities to elect representatives for the town council through the party tickets.. the interest in his funeral and support to his family was a signal to the minority that Turkey was standing by.40 – Sadık’s egoism. and even abandoned his close collaborators (Trakya’nın Sesi 492/27.10. It was clear that the independent tickets had outplayed their role. In addition.09.1994. 1994).
62 In other words. and attend their election speeches. This time.1996. but it was also revealed in the ultra-right newspaper Stohos 638/11. the major parties preferred to handle the minority as a Greek-Turkish issue.1996. If nothing else is mentioned. and influence the parties’ choice of candidates. Onsunoğlu was pleased to notice that there had been very little of the mud slinging and Black List threats. The candidates were decided upon after secret negotiations between Greek and Turkish authorities. 64 Trakya’nın Sesi 560/09.09.09. who became subsequently accepted by the two large parties. . See also the comments in Pontiki 05. Athens could count on Ankara to exclude some of the most stigmatised “independent” politicians.65 However. These elections also signified the end of the period when the minority press was dominated by the most brazen Turkish nationalist rhetoric in its recent history.63 As a consequence Ankara could exclude some of the previous party candidates who had opposed her opportunistic politic with the independent ticket. and this seems to have paved the way for certain new candidates in Xanthi and Rodopi. this was clearly a solo initiative.09. that he would not have Muslims on his ticket pointing to the experiences with Sadık and Faikoğlu. and since he did not have any real force behind him it hardly surpassed the level of the colourful. Some minority members had been in contact with the “Macedonian minority” activists for the possibly of a joint ticket. The only candidate to keep a high “Turkism” profile was a previous collaborator of Sadık Ahmet.1996. I was able to follow the campaign the week before the election.1996.64 I followed the election campaign in Thrace and it was very interesting to see the total transformation from previous elections.1996. announced in a press conference in Athens 30 August.09.. because the ultimate goal was to elect MPs.41 – Samaras. As a result of the agreement the minority vote was pooled to Galip Galip (PASOK) in Rodopi and Birol Akifoğlu (ND) in Xanthi (İleri 855/13. Mustafa Mustafa (Synaspismos) was also elected in Rodopi by a segment of minority voters who supported him partly in protest against the Turkish excesses in previous years.09. but from using the words “Turk” or “Turkish minority”. rather than risk that “uncontrollable” domestic left-wing forces would take the lead. which had marred the previous elections 62 This was “revealed” later in Trakya’nın Sesi 562/21. This gave me the opportunity to visit the candidates’ election offices. In the agreement Turkey made the concession that the party candidates would not only abstain from “Turkism demagogy” in their election propaganda. 2/10.1996. To the surprise of many. 65 See his election newspaper Eşitlik (Equality) 1/08.1996). this is also the source for my discussion about the candidates.09. Nazif Şakir. and channel the minority votes to the two large parties. 63 I know about this from minority sources.09. which also printed the joint election statement of the “Rainbow” party and OAKKE. too. This was accepted in order not to provoke the nationalists in Thrace.1996 and Eleftherotipia 05.09.
The closure by Greek authorities of well established minority associations with the epithet “Turkish” in their name together with the general anti-minority policy created anxiety. however.10. and psychological wounds” (Trakya’nın Sesi 565/10.42 – and created deep “national. Consequently the minority members functioned in Greek society primarily as a community and not as individual citizens. Of greater importance. social. The new factor was that the added pressure brought on by external developments. The elite that brokered the minority’s fortune reflects the basic power structures influencing the minority. which for a long time followed the conservative-modernist divide. Conclusions A careful reading of the minority press provides us with a unique insight into the peculiarities of its social and political life. In this climate Turkey remained the moral and material reference point for the minority. it is not sufficient to look at the minority’s actions in isolation. We also need to have a grasp of basic tenets of both Greek and Turkish society as well as important events that have influenced its living conditions throughout its minority existence. The Turkish ultra-nationalist circles’ . but later fused and reinforced each other. however. The elite’s exploitation of the identity issue to rally the minority does not represent something new in itself. was the effect of the Greek discriminatory practices established after 1967. This can partly be explained by that the minority remained in situ during its passage from majority to minority and consequently kept its social structure intact. The two main ideological structures that sustain the separate identity of the community are the Muslim religion and Turkish nationalism. Members of the minority elite positioned themselves in relation to the internal cleavages within the minority. To some degree this reflects developments in the Turkish Republic since the 1950s. influenced by the deteriorating Greek-Turkish relations. Another explanation is that Ottoman social organisation was familiar to Greeks and Turks alike and this facilitated the continuation of old role patterns. In order to understand its behaviour.1996). Greece has also preferred to deal with the minority indirectly either through its leaders or as a bargaining chip with Turkey in connection with the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul.. made the identity issue into a rallying point to be exploited by the minority elite. and the overarching framework of Greek-Turkish relations. In order to keep up its role as middlemen it has been in the interest of this group to maintain the minority’s existence as a separate community. In the period before 1974 these two ideologies were often in opposition. The minority’s precarious position in Greek society. The minority’s lack of integration into Greek society and its idiosyncratic political behaviour are striking.
Attempts to portray the failure of electing minority representatives for parliament as a great victory could not conceal the growing discomfort within the minority. however. The slogan “Unity and Solidarity” (birlik ve beraberlik) is reflecting both Islamic and Turkish ideals. The vocal criticism of the “minority mafia” by İbram Onsunoğlu was not only a reflection of his concern for the damage done to the minority cause within the Greek political system. The burst of Turkish nationalist rhetoric in the minority press was not necessarily representative for the minority at large. since by the early 1990s he held a position in a public hospital outside Thrace.. It is interesting to notice that those of his adversaries who could not count on Turkish support were to a large degree silenced although they were clearly uncomfortable with the development of minority politics. Sadık Ahmet had undeniably a lot of adherents within the minority. The return of the minority to the Greek parties in the 1996 general elections. There were. each accusing the opponent of destroying the unity and solidarity of the minority. It should be kept in mind that this happened after this faction had been able to neutralise most of the others voices within the minority elite. took place because of a Greek-Turkish understanding about candidates. The champions of Turkish nationalism in the minority could count on the protection of Turkey or in some instances human rights organisations mobilised indirectly by Turkey.43 – decision to exploit this dependence resulted in an unprecedented Turkish nationalism peddling by part of the minority press. It is striking how the attempts to impose a totalitarian leadership centred on Sadık Ahmet led to mutual attacks within the faction that had supporters in Turkey. Simply put. Minority politics thus remained firmly within the framework of GreekTurkish relations. The unprecedented Turkish interference in Greek domestic politics in the late 1980s could only take place because of the minority’s precarious position. He had. in particular among the rural population. these calls for unity were more related to personal ambitions than to any ideological commitment. . also many adversaries among the urban elite. since at this time many of the minority newspapers were in fact first of all addressing their patrons in Turkey. however. One explanation is their indirect dependence on Turkey because of the minority’s social structure. limits to the possibilities of Turkish interference in Greek politics. and their internal conflicts took on the character of each posing as the most authentic voice of Turkey. however. The 1993 general elections must be considered a low point in the minority’s political life. It was also a reflection of that he was in a position to criticise the abnormalities in minority politics without risking immediate retaliation from centres in Turkey.
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