GREECE SHOULD GRANT THE TURKISH MINORITY LIVING IN THE ISLANDS OF RHODES AND KOS THE RIGHT TO LEARN THEIR MOTHER TONGUE
Despite the fact that linguistic diversity as well as a multi-linguistic approach is dominant throughout Europe, Greece, a full member of the European Union, continues to deprive Turkish children living in Rhodes and Kos of their right to learn Turkish and be taught in their mother tongue.
As a matter of fact, minority cultural rights of Rhodes and Kos Turks have been addressed not only in a number of international treaties [Protocol No. 3 of the Treaty of Athens (1913); Article 15 of the Vienna Convention (1978), the Treaty of Sevres (August 10, 1920); Articles 37-45 of the Treaty of Lausanne (January 30, 1923) concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish populations; Treaties of Athens (1926), Ankara (1930) and Paris (1947)] but also within the context of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Nations and the Greek Constitution. However, Greece continues to ignore all these resolutions and decisions.
During the British Administration in Rhodes and Kos, there existed an organization called the Association of Turkish Schools.
With the transfer of the islands to Greek sovereignty in 1947, Greek-language education was introduced in Turkish school. Starting from this date until 1972, education/training in these schools was also given in Turkish language on a bilingual basis. In Turkish schools, social subjects such as history and geography were taught by Greek teachers; while, other subjects such as physics, chemistry and mathematics were given by Turkish teachers.
During this process, it was observed that the Greek administration gradually reduced the annuities allocated to these schools. Finally, the name of the Suleymaniye Madrasa, one of the Turkish-medium schools in Rhodes, was changed to the 13th City Primary School of Rhodes in 1972 and from that date on, education in Turkish was totally banned. The Turkish teachers teaching in the schools were forced into early retirement. This was the case in Kos, too.
Today, Turks living in Rhodes and Kos attend Greek public schools but they are exempt from religious classes. Turkish children studying in public schools can speak very little Turkish today. Cultural assimilation has been accelerated in this manner.
On the other hand, the Turkish image in the history course books in Greek schools is displayed as problematic and negative in many respects. The Turkish image is deemed equivalent to the words ”looting” and “massacre”. That Turks have always brought poverty, ignorance, weariness, pain, trouble, whip, bastinado and death to Greeks are predominant statements in Greece.
Another result observed in the exclusion of Turkish from the language of education/training in Rhodes and Kos is a gradual decline in the level of education of the Turks. Turks can benefit from secondary schools and high schools in a restricted manner and they remain well below Greek standards as far as education is concerned. The decline in the level of education has negatively affected the intellectual level of the Turks as well as their access to high-status professions. In Rhodes and Kos, Turks do not have professions such as doctors and engineers.
As the FUEN Assembly of Delegates, we urge the Greek State to take the following actions.
- As a member of the European Union, the Greek State must fulfill its responsibilities in the field of human rights, including minority rights, as contained in its Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and other human rights documents.
- The Greek State should establish a meaningful dialogue with the representatives of the Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos to reopen Turkish schools on a basis of offering bilingual education to Turkish children.
- The Greek State must immediately remove all obstacles placed in front of Rhodes and Kos Turks to learn their mother tongue as part of their human rights.
- The Greek State should grant permission to reopen not only public schools but also private schools on a bilingual basis in Turkish and Greek.
- The Greek State should remove negative and alienating statements concerning the Turkish image in the history course books taught in Greek schools.
- The Greek State should comply with ”the Final Version of the Council of Europe no 1867 (2012) on the Status of Turkish Citizens in Rhodes and Kos” concerning Turkish medium instruction on the basis of bilingual education in schools in Rhodes and Kos.