The Muslim Minority of Western Thrace in Greece: An Internal Positive or an Internal Negative “Other”?
The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, the main bilateral agreement for the protection of Greek and Muslim minorities, hallmarks the onset of a bilateral conflict between Greece and Turkey. Together with tackling the issues of the Aegean and Cyprus, the question of the Muslim minority in Greece impedes the normalization of Greek-Turkish diplomatic relations in recent decades. The state of affairs of the Muslim community in Western Thrace has been labeled as an extremely sensitive issue within the political scene. Drawing upon Pille Petersoo’s typology this paper introduces the notion of “negative and positive Others” to explore its role in Greek nationalist discourse. The main minority political, cultural and religious claims are also discussed, emphasizing minority’s most prominent political claim, the recognition of its ethnic Turkish identity. The paper argues that the historical and political conditions as well as the common ethnic background of a minority group with a kin-state, have nurtured the formation and expression of an internal negative “Other”. However, new dynamics have promoted the reconstruction of the role of otherness in Greek national identity.