I should preface by saying that I’m not part of the contemporary Turkey-hating Greek community. I travel often to Turkey, have business and friends there and enjoy my time eating, conversing and interacting with my Turkish friends and colleagues.
I also acknowledge that there was a massive genocide against Greeks, Armenians and other Christians in Turkey and successive Turkish governments– including the current one– have been brutal to the Greek community there.
But I don’t let historical fact and pain and suffering dictate my behavior. It happened and we can’t bring it back. We can (and must) remember the past, memorialize the dead and teach successive generations about what happened. But we must also let go of the animosity. Some prefer to keep this animosity. I don’t and I won’t.
Instead, we should speak out in a productive and civilized manner and target politicians, policy and government actions– and not an entire nation of people.
That said, there must be a psychological name for this— repeating a lie or falsehood over and over again to the point where you start believing what you’re saying. I’m not trained enough in the field to know what it’s called, but it definitely is a mental condition. Or maybe it’s just being delusional.
I’m referring to the messages that Turkish political leaders gave on Christmas, wishing their nation’s Christian minorities a festive and happy Christmas holiday, with all of this extra dressing thrown in.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on the day before Christmas: “I wish the Christmas festivity that our Christian citizens of different sects and churches celebrate, in accordance with their own beliefs, to reinforce a sense of unity and solidarity.”
Erdoğan should have stopped there. Greeks and other minorities would have said “thank you,” and that would have been the end of it. But he had to go on.
Describing Turkey as a “region nestling different cultures and beliefs in peace and brotherhood for ages”, Erdogan described Anatolia as a “basin of civilization where marginalization has found no ground”.
“Being opposed to all kinds of discrimination and racism, we consider the presence of different religions and cultures as a richness, in line with the values of our civilization,” he added.
At this point, I’m shaking my head and wondering if the stories I’m reading are from The Onion, or the Borowitz Report, two satirical news sites.
Erdogan also stressed in his loving Christmas message that it is a “matter of pride” for Turkey to be a place where all citizens maintain their lives “confidently regardless of their religion, belief or ethnicity.”
If Erdogan’s message wasn’t ludicrous enough, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had to add his two cents, also greeting his beloved Christians on their Christmas holiday.
“I celebrate the Christmas festivity of our Christian citizens and all Christians who contribute to our social life and with whom we live in peace, brotherhood and tolerance,” he said in a message issued by his press office late on Wednesday.
Peace? Brotherhood? TOLERANCE? Seriously guys?
By now I’m thinking that the entire Turkish leadership has been smoking some kind of ancient Ottoman fantasy pipe and they’re all just stoned out of their minds.
Davutoğlu went on to highlight the fact that Anatolia has hosted the best examples of “co-existence culture” throughout its history, as a cradle of several civilizations.
I think he missed the day in history class when they taught the years 1914-1922 when his predecessors orchestrated the annihilation of a millennia-old Christian presence of Greeks and Armenians, not to mention the fact that they burned down one of the greatest cities of the time.
Delusional Davutoğlu continued “With the historical understanding we inherited, we-then and now-regard our citizens from different beliefs, opinions and cultures as [source of] richness for our country, and appreciate that they embellish our social life.”
He added that Turks wished to live in “unity and solidarity” with groups of different beliefs and culture who, he said, “have lived together for ages on the same soil and shared the same destiny.”
Davutoğlu, who gave the order to his Air Force a few weeks ago to shoot down a Russian jet that might have crossed a few feet into Turkish airspace, also said he hoped 2016 would bring peace and happiness to all citizens of Turkey, as well as to all humanity.
I’m thinking “humanity” should have an asterisk next to it and Davutoğlu meant to exclude Russians, Turkey’s Greek minority, all Armenians, especially the Kardashians, Kurds and anyone who has set foot in the country of Israel.
Just a few reminders to the Turkish leaders about their nation’s “peace, brotherhood and tolerance” towards the Greek minority that Davutoğlu and Erdoğan might not recall in their delusional state:
In 1932, a Turkish parliamentary law barred Greeks living in Turkey from more than of 30 trades and professions, effectively sending most into poverty even though most were already successful. Greeks were excluded from tailoring and carpentry to medicine, law and real estate.
The infamous 1942 Varlik Vergisi tax that was imposed by the Turkish government targeted the country’s non-Muslims and ruined tens of thousands of Greek, Armenian and Jewish families. The tax led to multiple suicides as citizens who could not afford to pay the tax were forced to sell their belongings and properties in order to pay what was owed.
The death-knell of the Greek community— what was left of it— came on September 6-7, 1955, when anti-Greek riots took place— orchestrated by the government and military to rid the city of its remaining Greeks.
Over a dozen people died during the riots as a result of beatings and arson. Jews, Armenians and Muslims were also harmed. In addition to commercial targets, the mob clearly targeted property owned or administered by the Greek Orthodox Church. 73 churches and 23 schools were vandalized, burned or destroyed, as were 8 cemeteries and 3 monasteries.
Thousands of ethnic Greeks who lived in Turkey for generations left their properties and businesses and fled to Greece, but several thousand remained, refusing to abandon their lives in the nation they still called home.
In 1964, new actions by the government led to the forced exile of more than 25,000 Greeks— forced to leave the country— because they were perceived as threat to safety.
A 1971 law nationalized religious high schools, and closed the Halki Seminary which had trained Orthodox clergy since the 19th century, leaving the Ecumenical Patriarchate without a fresh pool of candidates to run the existing church-related institutions.
Meanwhile, illegal appropriation of properties have taken place over the decades. By 2007, Turkish authorities had seized thousands of properties and real estate of 81 Greek organizations as well as individuals of the Greek community, prompting several to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which has repeatedly ruled Turkey in violation of international law.
Discrimination and racism against Greeks in Turkey is closely implemented and controlled by the state. The curriculum contained primary and middle school textbooks includes phrases such as “we crushed the Greeks” and “traitors to the nation,” referring not to the neighboring country’s residents, but to ethnic Greeks who have lived in Turkey for thousands of years.
The Minority Rights Group International in 2015 stated that the curriculum of schools continue to depict “Armenians and Greeks as the enemies of the country.”
In a nutshell and in simple numbers:
Greeks who survived the Asia Minor Catastrophe and Pontian Genocide who remained in Turkey in 1922
Greeks permitted to remain in Istanbul following the Asia Minor Catastrophe and exchange of populations in 1923
Population of Greeks in Istanbul at the time of the 1955 riots
Population of Greeks in Istanbul in 1978, according to an official Turkish census of minorities
Population of Greeks in Istanbul in 2006, according to a report by Human Rights Watch
In short, the Greek population in Turkey is collapsing as the community is now far too small to sustain itself demographically, due to emigration, much higher death rates than birth rates and a century-old policy of official discrimination which continues today.
Merry Christmas President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Davutoğlu!
Great article Greg Pappas! Greatly appreciate the historical perspective and the anti Christian activities since the 1920’s. I was unaware of most of that. You called it as it is. Amazing. Delusional indeed!
Keep up the great writing!
I am sorry, you are correct some parts but off the wall in other parts. Ottoman Empire survived over 750 years, and yes all co existed in same borders, more than any other empire before them, and do not tell me all the minorities in Turkey behaved friendly manner, Armenians for example after 100’s of years opened a war front worst kind WITH IN when Turks all able bodies in front lines(5 Fronts) trying to save themselves from invaders,and Armenians Greeks revolted and tried to break up the country, if you ask me Turks behaved restrained, any other country would have kill every single one of them, this hypocrisy of so called Cross World is snouting, prejudice the best, just imagine 22 million Mexicans revolt inside America when America lets say in a war with Russia or China, and kill civilians by the 1000’s , What do you think all those returning soldiers from the front line came home and found their families massacred by vicious terrorists ?? I can imagine it, so lets cut the one sided propaganda and look at yourself in the mirror,all those say now we were miss treated never once admits to their treacherous behavior, no one one day wakes up after living with them 100’s of years and say lets go kill some Armenians today or Greeks, Genocide is a western made act, read some history
Mathew (LOL), if the Ottomans (Turks were just a minority) were so tolerant how do you explain the fact that every single nation under their rule revolted? If you read a bit more about history you’ll learn that the forced migration of the various ethnic minorities, was a common practice in the Ottoman empire. It was an easy way to exterminate Christian populations.
It is a disease mr Pappas, it’s called politics, and the bearers are called politicians!
Greeks need to stop looking to the past and focus on the present. How many Greeks travel to Greece with Turkish airlines month? If every Greek became responsible and washed himself from the culture of apathy and fear we could come to our senses soon enough. Stop supporting christian hating countries and companies.
The riots of Sept. 6/7 were indeed orchestrated by the Turkish government. What happened in 1955 is akin to the infamous “Krystallnact” (sp?) in Germany against the Jews. It is a proven fact this atrocity against the Greeks was orchestrated. The riots allegedly began because Kemal Ataturk’s house in Thessaloniki was firebombed (allegedly) by Greeks. The house itself was not damaged but the wall around the house was scorched. The act was done by the Turkish government or others working for the Turkish government. How do we know this? It was discovered that at least one Istanbul paper had prepared the news story of the firebombing the day BEFORE the incident.
The Turks are savages because Islam is a savages’ political ideology. The world turns a blind eye to the cancer of the earth which is Islam. The leftist disease has hit the west , liberals have their heads buried in the sand & are ignorant to such barbarities done in the name of a so called religion , that is nothing more then a death cult , & nothing but a totalitarian political movement more dangerous than the worst of communism. If Muhammadanism is not checked , & exposed for what it really is, we can expect this behavior in many places in the west where ugly face of Islam is rising rapidly. If this mass destruction was politically motivated , Islam was certainly the root cause of it. Turkey today is a nation of liars , the nation never was secular, it certainly wasn’t in 1955 & it is certainly not today. It is what it alway was , a Muhammadan Caliphate & terrorist state , that the US & NATO protects because of its proximity to Russia. If Eastern Europe & Germany (because of the huge Turkish population there) does not recognize this nation as being one that wants to revive its imperialistic aspirations, it may be doomed to repeat past mistakes & history’s lessons will unfortunately not be heeded. This is a part of history Greeks should tell the world about.