Strasbourg, 24.03.2009 – Both Greece and Turkey should treat all their citizens who are members of religious minorities according to the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights – rather than invoking “reciprocity” under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne as a basis for refusing to implement some rights.
Approving a report today on “Freedom of religion and other human rights for non-Muslim minorities in Turkey and for the Muslim minority in Thrace (Eastern Greece)”, the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) acknowledged the question was “emotionally very highly charged”.
Nevertheless, it said the two countries should “treat all their citizens without discrimination, without taking into account the way in which the neighbouring state might treat its own citizens”.
In a draft resolution, the committee said the recurrent invoking by Greece and Turkey of the principle of reciprocity as a basis for refusing to implement the rights guaranteed to the minorities concerned by the Treaty of Lausanne was “anachronistic” and could jeapordise each country’s national cohesion.
However, it also welcomed “a degree of new awareness by the authorities of both countries, which have demonstrated their commitment to finding appropriate responses to the difficulties facing the members of these minorities”.
The parliamentarians urged both governments to recognise the “freedom of ethnic self-identification” and to make a series of changes in minority, education and religious policy.
Draft resolution (provisional version)