Turkish deputies in Greek Parliament to focus on economic hardship, rights

May 13, 2012, Sunday/ 13:10:00/ HASAN HACI

The results of the parliamentary elections in Greece in last Sunday were shocking.

The people displayed their outrage at the harsh economic measures that the two major parties, the New Democracy party and Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), have implemented in cooperation with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the ballot box. The major parties lost substantial popular support in the election, while the neo-Nazi racist Golden Dawn secured 21 deputies (7 percent) in the parliament. The Muslim Turkish minority in West Thrace gained representation with three seats in the 300-seat parliament.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as SYRIZA, which won 52 seats in the election, held its first group meeting at parliament earlier in the week. Hüseyin Zeybek, elected as Xanthi (İskeçe in Turkish) deputy and Ayhan Karayusuf from Komotini (Gümülcine), attended the meeting. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, before his speech at the group meeting, shook hands with the two deputies.

Ahmet Hacıosman from the socialist PASOK, who has been elected as Komotini deputy for the third time in a row, arrived in Athens to attend the group meeting of his party. Speaking to the Cihan news agency on Wednesday, the minority deputies Zeybek, Hacıosman and Karayusuf elaborated on their goals and expressed their views on the racist Golden Dawn organization.

Xanthi deputy Zeybek from SYRIZA, which became a beacon of hope for the people with the 17 percent of vote it received in the recent elections in Greece, pledged to work hard for the economic development of the country and the Turkish-populated Thrace region. Zeybek further said: “Our people showed faith in me and extended huge support as evidenced by the 11,000 votes I received. First of all, I would like to extend my gratitude to the people who supported us and those who did not. I am experiencing different emotions right now. I feel and appreciate the responsibility on my shoulders.”

Noting that Greece is going through a difficult time, Zeybek said: “This also affects the Turkish minority in West Thrace because the minority is already a disadvantaged group in the country. They [members of the Turkish minority] feel this crisis deeply. There is decline and deterioration in the construction sector. The decline is 82 percent in İskeçe. Our people who invested heavily in construction are experiencing hardship. We are aware of it. We will work hard and do our best to address these problems.”

Asked whether they were worried about the neo-Nazi racist Golden Dawn, which has attracted attention because of its success in the elections in which it relied on a strong discourse against minorities and immigrants, Zeybek said: “We see this as a black stain on the history of Greek democracy. This is a concern that not only us, but also other friends in the Greek parliament hold. The position and the attitude this party will adopt in parliament will be crucial. Their attitudes outside parliament suggest that they are acting like a gang rather than a political party. Perhaps they will abandon this attitude. Maybe they will pick a different approach consistent with the code of parliament. Otherwise, parliament should take action in accordance with the parliamentary bylaws and the constitution.”

Hacıosman elected deputy for third time in a row

Ahmet Hacıosman, who has been re-elected for the third time in Komotini (with 10,772 votes), attended the first party group meeting at the parliament. Speaking to Cihan at Parliament, Hacıosman said: “I have been elected deputy for the third time. We have just started a new era that is full of problems. Hopefully, the political parties will get together to address the economic problems that our country is struggling with and they will work hard to make things better.”

Noting that the Turkish minority is also experiencing problems, Hacıosman further said: “The three minority deputies will work tirelessly in parliament to resolve the problems that our community has been struggling with. It is also our responsibility to pay attention to the economic problems in the country. We have been dealing with minority issues, particularly the economic ones, for many years. We have to focus on these problems as the representatives of our election district and our community.”

Speaking on the election success of Golden Dawn, (Hrisi Avgi), PASOK deputy Hacıosman said: “Well, Hrisi Avgi won seats in parliament; they are representatives elected by the people. But we will have a better idea after we see what they have done in parliament. Above all, we need to wait. And then, we will make our comments.”

Karayusuf: I thank the wisdom and common sense that elected us

Komotini deputy Ayhan Karayusuf from SYRIZA received 3,000 votes. Karayusuf said: “I have been elected deputy in the race that I participated in for the first time. This is something I am proud of on behalf of my party, my community. At this point, I would like to thank the Greek people and the West Thrace Turkish minority for their common sense. Our work in parliament shows that the importance attached by the left to minority issues has attracted popular attention. I believe that we have become stronger in parliament after winning 52 seats.”

Speaking on the success of Golden Dawn, Karayusuf said: “Golden Dawn won seats in parliament. This is not good. My opinion is that there are 300 deputies in the Greek parliament and because the majority of them do not hold the views of the Golden Dawn members, I do not have any worries or concerns. And when the time is right, they will be gone just as quickly as they arrived.”

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