Greece: Minority Report: rights for Turks in Greece

{Greek nationals, whose mother-tongue is Turkish, are not allowed to identify themselves as Turks. Despite Greek reforms, Turkish-speakers still look to Turkey for relief.} By John Brady Kiesling Greek courts have refused since the 1980s to allow Greek citizens whose mother tongue is Turkish to identify themselves as Turks in official contexts. Legally and morally this is an untenable position. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne specified minimum human rights for Greece’s Muslim community, not maximum rights. A grand, half-forgotten bargain was sealed in Helsinki in 1975. The Soviet Union, the United States and their partners and satellites renounced armed conflict and acknowledged the existing borders of Europe. Nationalists unreconciled to those borders were appeased by guarantees for the rights of their “national minorities” stranded on the wrong side of them. The Helsinki Final Act was crafted to weaken the glue holding the Soviet system together. Even so, the US legal team at Helsinki had serious reservations about enshrining “national minorities” in international law. The American nation is every US citizen. The founding fathers insisted that civic and human rights belonged equally to each individual by virtue of membership in the human race. Each person is a minority of one. Minority rights are acceptable as the extension of the exercise of individual rights, but preferential treatment handed out by the state to some groups but not to others on the basis of language, religion or “blood” is incompatible with the fundamental principle of equality before the law.

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