emg home
Greece: Ensuring peace, stability and cooperation in the Balkans as key priority Turkey: Kosovo ruling presents opportunity for Balkan peace Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania welcomes the advisory opinion of the ICJ Most judges from countries that have recognised Kosovo Azerbaijani MFA: Kosovo conflict is unique FYROM on ICJ Kosovo ruling Dodik: ICJ opinion will have worldwide ramifications Majority of African Union states support Serbia’s position on Kosovo-Metohija

News Archive

1) Çetin Mandacı (PASOK) (T), 2) Aysel Zeybek (ND), 3) Ridvan Kocamümin (PASOK)

“Turkish votes to Turks”

Muslim Minority vote of critical importance

04. October 2009. | 10:58

Source: Zaman

In Western Thrace there are 14 candidates from four different parties of Turkish descent running in the elections. A “Turkish votes to Turks” campaign that ensured success for Turkish candidates in the 2007 polls in Western Thrace is being repeated this year.

In Western Thrace there are 14 candidates from four different parties of Turkish descent running in the elections. A “Turkish votes to Turks” campaign that ensured success for Turkish candidates in the 2007 polls in Western Thrace is being repeated this year.

While PASOK and the ND have added two Turkish names each to their five-candidate lists in the Rodop (Gümülcine) province, they also each have two Turkish candidates in İskeçe. There are no Turkish candidates in the Meriç (Evros) region where the Turkish population has decreased.

In Rodop (Gümülcine), Ahmet Hacıosman is running for re-election for his seat in Parliament on the PASOK lists, while the second Turkish candidate is Rıdvan Kocamümin, an attorney who is one of the provincial deputy governors. The ND's candidates are İlhan Ahmet, another incumbent from the 2004 elections, and businessman İdris Ahmet. Former deputy Dr. Mustafa Mustafa is running again with SYRIZA, as is Celalettin Yurtçu. As for the KKE, it is running businessman Faik Faik.

New names draw attention to the five-person lists in İskeçe province, where the political parties are running two Turks each. PASOK is running Çetin Mandacı, an incumbent defending a seat that he won in 2007, and psychologist Seval Osmanoğlu. The ND is running Ahmet Budur and journalist Aysel Zeybek. The other Turkish candidates in İskeçe are the KKE's Hasan Efendi and SYRIZA's forerunning candidates Hasan Malkoç and Hüseyin Zeybek.

The Turkish minority bloc is playing an important role in the ongoing power struggle between the ND and PASOK. The Turkish minority holds around 40,000 votes in Rodop and 30,000 in İskeçe. The ND and PASOK are upping the ante with get-out-the-vote measures aimed at Turks, including providing free bus transportation for 20,000 Greek citizens living in Turkey to Western Thrace so that they can cast their votes. They will also pay 50 euros per head for voters coming to Western Thrace from Greece to vote.

As happened in the last elections, it is expected that PASOK will send two Turks successfully to Parliament, which means that the contribution to PASOK's election performance could be significant, as only a handful of seats could be the difference between winning and losing. Indeed, such a result would mean that the minorities of Western Thrace would gain bargaining power in Parliament on issues related to minority rights.

But the Turkish minority is concerned in particular because during their time in power the leaders of PASOK and the ND have not made any promises with regards to unsolved problems facing minorities over education, economic backwardness, foundations, religious issues, organization and the denial of Turkish identity. While Karamanlis defends the “Modern Minority Police” based on equal citizenship for minorities, Papandreou asserts that minorities will be protected and that their rights will be guaranteed by the Greek state. Papandreou also emphasizes his opposition to interference from Turkey in Greek's minority affairs.

Theologian Ahmet Hacıosman, who has been active in politics since 1985, was selected with the most votes from the Rodop region in 2007 to become a deputy from PASOK. Hacıosman believes that an administration headed by Papandreou would be beneficial for minorities, saying: “Papandreou instructed us, saying: ‘Get ready; we're going to come to power. Prepare your plans and projects accordingly'.” Hacıosman says Papandreou will take sincere initiatives to solve minority issues and asserts that when he was foreign minister his work improved the lives of minorities in Greece.

As for Ahmet, elected to Parliament from Rodop as an ND candidate in 2004, he draws attention to the possibility of a “weak administration” and emphasizes that the Turkish minority could play a critical role in the election results, calling attention to the three Turkish candidates from PASOK. Noting the development of an extreme nationalism in Western Thrace, Ahmet said to counteract this Turks should vote for Turks. He expressed confidence that he would win a seat in Parliament.

PASOK's second Turkish Rodop candidate, Kocamümin, believes that “in power, PASOK would make it easier for minorities to have their rights returned and for the economy to develop.” He says if elected he will do his best to represent minorities in the best way possible.

Elected to Parliament as a PASOK candidate from İskeçe in 2007, Çetin Mandacı says in his term he worked in Parliament to find solutions to the problems faced by minorities. He expresses hope that in the new term he will be able to make more progress in this regard, also noting the impact of state foreign policy on Turks living in Greece. “An improvement in Turkish-Greek relations would have an impact on Western Thrace,” he says.

Aysel Zeybek, who was able to regain revoked Greek citizenship in Western Thrace only after a long battle that went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in her favor, says she wants to make history as the first woman elected to Parliament from İskeçe. She also calls for Turkish votes to go to Turkish candidates and says she will fight in Athens to solve the chronic problems of minorities, which include issues over education, religious freedom and economic and identity problems. She also emphasizes that someone needs to take an active role in addressing the future and societal problems that face minority women in Greece.


My Web

Enter text:


19. July - 25. July 2010.