Greece prepares to dismantle Lausanne Treaty clause following Erdoğan visit
Greece is preparing legal measures to make abiding by Sharia law, which regulates family affairs for the Muslim minority in Western Thrace under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, an option to which all parties must first agree rather than a default that parties can mutually agree to opt out of.
“This is a step towards modernisation that has been delayed for decades on the journey to recognising more democratic rights for our Muslim citizens,” Education, Research and Religious Affairs Minister Kostas Gavroglu was quoted by Turkish-language Greek newspaper Azınlıkça as saying.
“To make Islamic law optional, a move that has not been taken for many years, is the first step,” Gavroglu said. “The next step is a complete rationalisation of the muftis.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on a state visit to Greece last week, said the country was not fulfilling its obligations to its Muslim minority under the Treaty of Lausanne and called for a renegotiation of the treaty.
“Muslims in Western Thrace have not even been allowed to choose their own mufti from their community,” Erdoğan said. “Serious improvements have to be made regarding the status of minority ethnic Turks in Western Thrace.”
In Western Thrace, Muslims are by default governed by Sharia law in matters of marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance.
“Making Sharia optional is respect for a minority,” Gavroglu said. “Identity issues are very serious issues and we need to take steps very carefully.”