Re: Greeks and the Ottoman Rule

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Posted by Nikos on December 19, 2000 at 17:32:48:

In Reply to: Greeks and the Ottoman Rule posted by Mike on December 18, 2000 at 11:20:31:


I would first like to point out that the Ottoman Empire did not come to an end until 1923. Only a small portion of the Greeks were liberated during the uprising in 1821. By 1823 over 2/3 of the Greek people lived outside of the newly founded Greek state. Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, and a few islands in the Northern Aegean were liberated over the 100 years following the revolution. Some places however (Tenedos, Imvros, the Western Coast of Turkey, Cappadocia, the Eastern Black Sea communities etc.) were never liberated. Instead these people were killed during the final days of Ottoman rule, and those that remained were later forced to move by the Treaty of Lausanne 1923 which exchanged the Greek and Turkish populations, to create a supposedly more homogenous state for each. These events are very recent, our grandfathers and grandmothers still can tell us from first hand accounts of the horrors they faced during those days of fighting and forced exchange. This is why you may find such fresh wounds still festering in Greek society. But as others have pointed out, there are others who were occupied by the Ottomans who equally have a distaste for the Ottoman times, and thus Turks. The Arabs attitudes of Ottoman times, and their position in Ottoman society are areas which you should read up on. There were numerous underground Arab societies that worked to prevent the Turkification of the Arab communities that were under Ottoman rule. There are still others like the Armenians who faced more torture and punishment for their ethnicity than the Greeks.
Secondly, the Greeks and most Balkan countries are deeply religious. Every few feet
in Greece and in other Balkan countries you come across a church. How can you not expect the Greeks and other Orthodox Christians not to show animosity towards the Turks who stole and desacrated the seat of Orthodox Christianity, in Constantinople? The Patriarch of Constantinople is still unable to open the Halki Theological School.
Unfortunately there was only a short period of peace between Greece and Turkey, but in the 1960s tensions flared again, primarily over Cyprus. This tension empowered any feelings that had been softened over the period of detente between Greece and Turkey to resurface. Cyprus, the treatement of orthodox religious property and remains in Turkey and Cyprus, the disputes in the Aegean and threats of force by Turkey against Greece extending its territorial boundries in the Aegean according to the Convention of the Law of the Sea, the treatment of the remaining Greeks Christians in Turkey (not to mention the treatment of Greek muslims - they do exist, but that's another story), and many other threatening and aggressive actions have left an air of cynicism in Greek society about the honest possibility for good neighborliness. As long as the Greeks feel threatened and the Turks feel aggravated, the negative associations with the past will surface in the retorhic of even the most common citizen of each country.
One final note, to Mike, try traveling outside of the very wealthy western nations. All of the countries you mentioned may have been invaded and occupied but they are definately not in a second class position right now. They are all wealthy and all have democratic institutions that are the strongest in the world. It is very easy to accept the past when you still have come out on top. Although Greece has been considered part of Western Europe, because it has been surrounded by countries that have not followed democratic paths in the past it has not had the opportunity to build solid relations (other than Italy and maybe Israel) that reduce the likelihood of war among neighbors and foster the same kind of economic interdependce found in Western Europe.

: Tell me why Greeks are obsessed by the Turkish Ottoman Occupation.
: I've been in Greece many times, and given a chance almost
: everybody will start lamenting about it with great
: emotion, more than 150 years after its end, sometimes uttering
: the most obvious exaggerations.
: In other countries I haven't come across this behaviour:
: Holland has been occupied by the Spanish and French,
: Spain by the Arabs, Portugal by the French and English,
: Italy by the French, Normans and Arabs, and so on.
: Many of these were probably more brutal and oppresive than
: the Ottoman Empire rule, and yet the people seem to have
: come to terms with this aspect of their history.
: Why havent't the Greeks?

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