The ECtHR as a Venue for Greco-Turkish Relations: The Treaty of Lausanne and the Muslim Minority in Western Thrace

Margarita Markoviti

Working Paper 3, v. 4 May 2017

Since the early 1990s, Greece’s record at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) over religious freedoms violations has been exceptional. More than simply indicating the challenges Greece has been facing in the treatment of religious diversity and the simultaneous prevalence of the Christian Orthodox Church, these convictions by the ECtHR have exposed a further weakness of the country, namely the consequences of its policies towards the Muslim minority in Western Thrace. In spite of certain limited attempts, the seclusion and even neglect of this minority of about 120,000 people (consisting of Ethnic Turks, Pomaks and Roma), who have remained in the region following the forced exchange of population and the signing between Greece and Turkey of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, has long formed a topic of academic and political discussion (Anagnostou & Triandafyllidou 2009, Tsitselikis 2012). In the light of recurrent debates in Greece over the minority’s identity and the implications of its continued segregation, as well as the tensions following Turkish prime minister’s statements that question the premises of the Treaty of Lausanne, the ECtHR has increasingly represented the venue that minority members themselves turn to in order to claim their rights (see Serif v Greece, Agga v Greece, Xanthi Turkish Union and Others v Greece, including a current case over the application of sharia law and the rights of inheritance for the Muslim minority women). This paper uses socio-legal and mobilization theories and seeks to contribute to an emerging scholarship on the “radiating effects” (Galanter 1983) of Court’s decisions in a European context. The original findings draw on semi-structured interviews with the key actors involved in the interaction between the Greek state, the Muslim minority and the ECtHR. By focusing specifically on national policies towards the minority of Western Thrace, the paper thus argues that one of the key “radiating effects” of the ECtHR has been the creation of a venue where Greco-Turkish relations are tested and where long-established historic conventions are currently being challenged, once again, within the context of religion.

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The Secular Court?

Effie Fokas

Working Paper 2, v. 1 November 2016

In posing ‘The secular court?’ as a question, this paper questions whether the judiciary can be considered a force promoting secularism and argues that we cannot speak in terms of clear, mono-directional trends in court-promoted secularism, because of the complex nature of everyday religion in its engagement with the law, and with courts. The argument is supported with examples from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the United States Supreme Court jurisprudence.

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The “radiating effects” of the European Court of Human Rights on social mobilisations around religion in Europe – an analytical frame

Dia Anagnostou and Effie Fokas

Working Paper 1, v. 22 May 2015

While a growing non-legal scholarship has begun to explore the domestic implementation of international court judgments in national law and policy, virtually no attention has been paid to their indirect effects. Yet the indirect effects are arguably far more important than the direct impact judgments can have by means of their formal implementation by state authorities. Indirect effects include the ways in which international human rights judgments may influence domestic debates in law, politics and academia, raise public consciousness, change how social actors perceive and articulate their grievances and claims, empower national rights institutions, or prompt mobilization among civil society and other rights advocates. This paper sets out an analytical framework for the Grassrootsmobilise research in its study of the indirect effects of ECtHR religion-related case law. In so doing it seeks to start filling the gap in academic research and knowledge about the indirect effects of human rights case law, specifically in the area of religion and religious freedom.

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