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Teaching Turkish in pre-school in Greece was on the agenda of the EP’s PETI committee

A petition asking for teaching Turkish in pre-school education to children belonging to the Turkish community in Western Thrace was discussed on Monday, 10 January 2022 in the PETI committee of the European Parliament. Petitioner Ozan Ahmetoğlu called for the introduction of legal and political measures to ensure that children of Turkish community in Western Thrace are provided with bilingual pre-school education or authorisation is given to establish private pre-school education by community organisations in the region.

Greece does not recognise the Turkish community; they refer to them as the Muslim community and do not provide teaching in mother tongue for them. In his intervention, the petitioner gave the example of his own child who at the age of five had difficulties in kindergarten because he does not speak Greek.

In his intervention MEP Loránt Vincze, the President of FUEN, responsible for the petition on behalf of the EPP pointed out that when a five-year old child goes to the kindergarten and cannot make himself understood and cannot participate in the education process, it raises an issue of human rights. In his opinion, the children’s right and access to education must be highlighted in this case, which is clearly a matter of discrimination against the children belonging to the Turkish minority.

Mr Vincze said that this is a systematic problem, and it is worrisome that the Greek authorities do not answer to these citizens, who are overlooked by the authorities. “We need a structured approach to this matter, as it is also a rule of law matter of access to education, and it has a human rights perspective”, said the FUEN President. Following his request, the petition will remain open and will be sent to the CULT committee for examination.