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Turkey registers first Omicron variant cases

Health minister said only six cases have been detected so far in the country and patients haven’t been hospitalised.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has announced that six Covid-19 Omicron variants have seen in country’s two western provinces.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has announced that six Covid-19 Omicron variants have seen in country’s two western provinces. (AA)

Turkey has reported the first cases of Covid-19 Omicron variant in the country.

Six cases of the variant have been seen in two cities, Turkey’s health minister announced on Saturday in parliament.

“They are outpatients who do not have any problems and are with extremely mild symptoms,” Fahrettin Koca said, adding that the infected people have not been hospitalised.

Koca gave no further details about how they caught the Omicron variant.

All the cases are in the country’s western provinces with five of them in Izmir and one in Istanbul.

Turkey reported 19,255 daily coronavirus cases on Saturday with 191 additional deaths.

Over 82 percent of the population had at least two vaccine shots.

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South African scientists announced on Nov. 24 the discovery of the novel variant, which has several mutations.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the Omicron variant, which it had declared a “variant of concern,” has been detected in 57 countries so far.
The Muslim Turkish minority in Greece expects the country’s compliance with European court rulings, sources said.

On the occasion of December 10 Human Rights Day, the Xanthi Turkish Union (ITB), one of the oldest associations of the country’s 150,000 strong Muslim-Turkish minority, hosted a webinar on Greece’s violations of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings regarding minority rights.

ITB head Ozan Ahmetoglu said on Friday the union was founded in 1927 and carried out its activities legally until 1983.

“But that year, the Greek state filed for a court to close the ITB and two other minority associations that had the word ‘Turkish’ in their name,” he said. “This was a reflection of Greece’s denial of the ethnic identity of the minority and their claim that there is no Turkish minority in the Western Thrace.”

After exhausting domestic remedies in 2005, ITB took the case to the ECHR, and in 2008 the court ruled in favor of the union, Ahmetoglu said, noting that the ruling determined that Greece violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

Greece, however, refuses to comply with the ECHR ruling, he said.
Long struggle for rights

The Greek court’s ruling on Wednesday denying an application by the Xanthi Turkish Union to reregister came in response to an ECHR ruling from more than a decade ago that Greece has never carried out.

Under the 2008 ECHR ruling, the right of Turks in Western Thrace to use the word “Turkish” in names of associations was guaranteed, but Athens has failed to carry out the ruling, effectively banning the Turkish group identity.

Greece’s Western Thrace region is home to a Muslim Turkish community of 150,000.

In 1983, the nameplate of the Xanthi Turkish Union (Iskece Turk Birligi) was removed, and the group was completely banned in 1986, on the pretext that “Turkish” was in its name.

To apply the ECHR decision, in 2017 the Greek parliament passed a law enabling banned associations to apply for re-registration, but the legislation included major exceptions that complicated applications.

Turkey has long decried Greek violations of the rights of its Muslims and the Turkish minority, from closing mosques and shutting schools to not letting Muslim Turks elect their religious leaders.

The measures violate the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne as well as ECHR verdicts, making Greece a state that flouts the law, say Turkish officials.

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