Number 193 | March 9, 2012
The Supreme Court of Greece has denied the Xanthi Turkish Union to use the word “Turk” in its name despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The Xanthi Turkish Union was closed down in 1986 following a complaint filed by the Xanthi governor on grounds that usage of the word “Turk” was a threat to the national security of Greece. Upon exhausting all domestic legal remedies, the Xanthi Turkish Union filed a case with the ECHR, which held in 2008 that Greece had violated the right of freedom of assembly and association of the Turkish community. Accordingly, it was maintained that Greece had to allow its minorities the right to use their ethnic names for their associations.
Greece has since rejected to recognize the decision of the ECHR as binding on national courts. Article 46 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which Greece has ratified in 1947, provides that contracting states undertake to abide by the Court's final decision.
The Xanthi Turkish Union is only one of many Turkish associations that remain closed in Greece on similar grounds. The ongoing denial of the Greek government to comply with international human rights standards and recognize the identity of ethnic Turks in Greece continues to result in the discrimination and marginalization of its Turkish minority.