Jul 17 2019

Turks in Greece criticise authorities for selling their land without permission

Greek authorities approved the sale of land belonging to a Turkish Muslim foundation on the islands of Kos and Rhodes without its permission, pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah reported on Tuesday.

A local authority overseeing the land, which belongs to the Kos Islamic Foundation, approved the sale of 34 acres for 181,000 euros ($204,000) to a tourism company, said Daily Sabah.

According to the newspaper, the local authority justified the sale by covering restoration fees for five mosques in Kos in exchange.

Kadri Memiş, president of the Education and Culture Association of Kos Muslims, told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency that the foundation was forced to sell the lands. Memiş said more than 70 of their properties, mostly land, had been either sold or handed over to municipalities, citing that most had been converted into parks, parking lots and cemeteries.

Some 9,000 Turks live on the islands of Rhodes and Kos, according to unofficial figures, while some 140,000 Turks live in Greece, according to the U.S. State Department.

Turkish authorities have repeatedly criticised Greece’s treatment of its Turkish Muslim minority, which mainly lives in the Western Thrace region.

The Lausanne Peace Treaty established a balance between the religious rights of ethnic Turks in western Thrace and those of the Greek Orthodox community in Istanbul.