LECTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF READING
Wednesday, 18 March 1998
by Neoklis Sarris, Professor of Panteion University of Athens
Organised by the Hellenic Society of the University of Reading
with the co-operation of Diaspora
as a part of the activities taken place within the
Week of Hellenic Culture (14-18/3/1998)
of the Hellenic Society at University of Reading, UK
Leyla Umar is a very well known Turkish journalist with international acclaim and a very good of mine - a childhood. Leyla, of whom I can assure you is a real friend of Greeks and a visionary of Greek-Turkish friendship, on many occasions expresses, perhaps against herself - because of her close bonds on a social relations level - the poin1ts of view that are dominant in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and among the entrepreneurial circles of her country. Points of view that advocate a Greek-Turkish rapprochement. Thus, the argument highlighted by Leyla is expressed with a question: How can it be that Pakistan and India that have both been under the rule of Great Britain are today in friendly terms with Britain, and Greece is not friendly towards Turkey. The argument may look "reasonable" in first appearance, but it decodes by itself the kind of social representations that the Turks have of the Greeks. This discovery follows the mechanistic dealing with the problems that compose the Greek-Turkish rupture. Because, of course, it is neither the case that Greeks are Pakistanis and Indians, nor is it the case that the Turkish are English, as they themselves think. This is why, quite politely, I restricted myself to answering to Leyla that if we transposed the problems to the Pacific Ocean, certainly the problems between the two countries would vanish into thin air.
A similar argument that is being advanced, only a more elegant one, is the one that expresses the question on how France and Germany managed to set aside age-long competitiveness and to reconcile. I do not know to what extent this is true and responds to collective representations of French and German people - this is something I wish to be happening anyway. But what undoubtedly happens is that neither of the two countries, neither France nor Germany nurtures any expansionist aspirations against the other, and even if this is not the case, neither of them threatens or intimidates the other. Here, too, you see, there exists a mechanistic confrontation of the issue, overlooking, as it does, the social and historical content of these two countries' relations. The German-French relations within the whole of their historical trajectory can not represent the prototype on the basis of which the Greek-Turkish relations can be dealt with, the latter being relations of a structure of their own.
A third argument repeated unduly by the Turkish side is that the Greek and the Turkish people love each other and that for all problems the political heads of the two countries are to blame (the "politicians" of the two countries and mainly of Greece), who, for reasons of internal politics. That is of vote hunting, "fabricate" the tension between the two countries. A claim that on the one hand is self-contradicted and on the other reveals something more essential that is not suspected even by the propounders of this claim. Because, since the two people love each other one would expect from the politicians that are keen to be re-elected to sustain their politics on this friendship, therefore the aphorism of the existence of superlative "love" is foolhardly. This is why dear departed Andreas Papandreou who, in the end of the day did not say anything more than "we neither yield anything to Turkey, nor do we claim anything from her" was considered by the public opinion-makers in Turkey as a demagogue who torpedoed the solution of the differences between the two countries. And this, because, if one follows the same train of thought, the solution would mean "concessions" of Greece to the profit of Turkey. What these concessions refer to will be discussed below.
On the other hand, the argument according to which the politicians are "to blame" reveals a different reality. And this concerns the particular structure that characterises the Ottoman reality - in the sense of an idiosyncratic social-political pattern, a structure inherited by Turkey. Even our first-years students know that the civil society within a state precedes and that the state is but a secondary institution that originates from a society or that a society - and more correctly the powers within it - produce a state. But, in the Ottoman pattern, state and society are different entities. The society exists by itself and the state is "introduced" into it and survives on society's surplus product. It is about the phenomenon of military-bureaucratic class - which, in the flow of history, co-operates with certain social strata or classes or merely social powers - that rests on the society. I would like to stress at this point that this theorem is not mine, neither do I claim its paternity, but I have borrowed it from my wise Professor Niyazi Berkes, an exceptional scholar originating from Cyprus and a progressive Turkish nationalist.
Starting off from this discovery, then, we will leave aside the mechanistic analyses taking the risk of displeasing the colleagues that teach - and are taught - international relations, since a very large part of the theory of this discipline is characterised by the mechanistic understanding of its thematology. I will try to disassociate Greek-Turkish relations from "Greek-Turkish differences" because I believe that these are, to a very large extent, an epiphenomenon of a different, substantial problem. And, to avoid keeping you in suspense, I will announce it now: it regards the problem of essential (take notice of this, I say essential and not nominal, schematic) modernisation and democratisation of Turkey. Therefore, I will ask you, if you please, to follow me along the recording within ten propositions of some self-evident, in my opinion, suggestions but also working hypotheses through which on the one hand this one my conclusion is verified and on the other the speculation around the Greek-Turkish relations is recorder/rendered meaning.
First: The Greek-Turkish relations remain incomprehensible if and since the Ottoman reality is ignored. I want to stress the particular structure that characterises this social-political type, which does not resemble other forms, even those from which it had inherited various elements, but has incorporated them into its own logic. Two distinctions are prevalent in this structure. The first distinction has already been mentioned. It is the tight separation between society and state, a state that remains a foreign body vis-à-vis the society. The second distinction concerns Muslims and non-Muslims. Officially, the Ottoman state is Muslim. In reality two are the political powers on which the state balances, powers distinguished on the basis of the criterion of the sacred and the secular. On the basis of the criterion of the sacred (Seri) the ulema are the basic political power, that is theologians who are simultaneously conversant with the law of Islam. These people constitute the ideological mechanisms of the state: they are opinion makers, opinion formers. On the basis of the criterion of the secular (urfi) the basic political power are the military, the seyfiye, which form the repression mechanisms of the state. When these two powers co-operate what happens is that, as the late, unforgettable Professor Taris Zafer Tunaya commented, there follows a military coup that overturns the government. Who precede in the hierarchy? Which power foreruns among these two? Although the military have the power, the jurists are considered stronger (and this happens today too, among western societies where the controllers of ideological mechanisms are stronger than the controllers of the armed forces). As regards the origin of the two aforementioned powers, we observe that the people versed in law come from basically Turkish families, while the military and particularly the jannisaries come from islamised Christians, that is from other ethnicities.
In practice the problem is a little more complicated, because for example the church, although a sacred element, is considered urfi, that is a non-Islamic element, and its rules, to the extent that they match the Islamic law are perceived as customary (adet), something that teaches us that secularity is not perceived as in the West (and this is an outcome of the Islam itself) but as customariness. The same goes with regard to the concept of nation. There is the word millet, which means "nation" in Turkish. But the nation of this category differs a lot from the real sense of responding words of European languages. And we must pay attention to this point given that this specific distinction has profoundly affected the nature and the essence of the ethnogenesis of the states/nations that were constituted from the dissolution of the Ottoman state. Let us capitulate. Thus, as nation is perceived the religious community, and all the more so in the sense of belief and not of religion. Through the expression rum milleti, more particularly, not only Greeks are implied but the whole of the Orthodox Christians are considered, among whom belong Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians and Arab Orthodox Christians. Conversely, Armenians, that normally form one nations, were considered as two initially, the Gregorian Armenians and the Catholic Armenians, while from the middle of the nineteenth century they were considered as three, because the Protestant Armenians were added to the above.
In the Ottoman political system the Islam has been used as a vehicle for the accomplishment of its functional aspirations. Thus, on the basis of the principles of the Islam the Muslims maintain the political authority and the non-Muslims, to the extent that they acknowledge the authority of the Muslims can, by paying excessive taxes - in comparison with those paid by Muslims - maintain their faith and act according to what this faith enjoins under the condition that they will not provoke the Muslims and that they will generally consent to being placed under the protection of the Islamic state. In practice the objective was to ensure the funding through the Christians of continuous expansionary wars. Because it should be noted that the whole of the Ottoman state - as a pleiad of Turkish scholars observe, like for example Professor Kucukomer or Berkes to whom I already referred to - pursues its expansion by means of profitable wars. When the wars are not profitable - as is in the case from the seventeenth century - and they last many years and no new conquers are realised, there emerges an intense fiscal problem, that is the need appears for more and more money for war purposes. This is translated into new tax burdens that, to their largest extent, are transposed to non-Muslims. Hans Werner has already calculated that in the fifteenth century between two farmers of equal tax-paying capacity the one of whom was Christian and the other Muslim, the former defrayed up to the seventy percent (70%) of his produce as tax and was left with the thirty percent (30%), while the latter defrayed the thirty percent (30%) and was left with the seventy percent (70%). It may appear as an extreme case, but all calculations that have taken place until today do not take into consideration additional burdens that the Christians (non-Muslims generally) had to carry for the maintenance of their religious foundations. Just think that there was a special accounts' office of the state, the "piskopos mukataasi" to which special taxes were defrayed by Patriarchs and Bishops for their election (usually the candidate they recovered them through trading concession posts of priests, that is subordinates who, in their turn, recovered money from the believers). Thus, there was a legal and an illegal cash flow from the non-Muslim to the ruling Ottomans. This means that the legendary religious tolerance was purchasable, bought. Even for the determination of the yearly date of Easter a series of officials, the first among whom was the Sultan himself, had to be bribed. Apart from this let us stress the houses for worship of the non-Muslims had to be very humble and miserable buildings under the threat of being converted into shrines, that the Christians had to live in their ghettos and in low, colour they might choose, nor good-quality clothes, but that even their when a Christian met a Muslim in the road he had to kneel and bow to him.
But the distinction between Muslims/Non-Muslims and of the non-Muslims into the communities according to their religion had a further usefulness: it averted the union of the subjects for an eventual overturn of the despotic regime. Because the regime never hesitated - on the basis of the principle "divide and rule" - to turn one ethnicity against another, in order to impose "order" subsequently.
The system to which I refer is despotic according to the term established by Perry Anderson, meaning excessively authoritarian. And the question remains how it could be imposed for a long time. There are, in my opinion, two reasons, one internal and the other external. The first is, as Professor Taner Timour remarks, the fear that the state caused among its subjects. The second is that which constitutes the so-called "Eastern Issue", according to which the European powers that disagree on how to distribute between themselves the Ottoman state, do agree that it should be preserved (this is the dogma of integrity of the Ottoman Empire), and that one or more of them try to be used as buffer state(s) at that. Namely, as an intermediate state/states for supporting their economic and political interests in the area.
But I will return momentarily to the question of fear. If we want to predict the structure of the Ottoman pattern we see that it is made of pairs of relations arranged vertically and not horizontally. The upper part of the pair loves the lower part and the lower part fears the upper part. Both parts have accepted this as their position, it is something natural, non-arguable. Arguing this relation is impertinence, hubris and revolt, rebellion, mutiny. This structure runs throughout all the line of the society, which in itself is established hierarchically and pyramid-like. This duet is observed in the relations between husband and wife on a micro-social level. Husband loves wife, wife fears husband, brother loves sister, sister fears brother. And today, as we will see, the same structure us pursued for a "Greek-Turkish approach". But all this in a moment.
Second: In the Ottoman pattern that we outlined, various ethnicities or religions coexist together but also separately. Together because they live in the same space, separately because there is no real contact at all -each community lives in its own district, and even in the villages with mixed population except for the accidental transactions in the common locus of encounter, the market, the bezesten, the bazaar. And I am stressing this because it is usually said that for centuries Greeks and Turks (but other ethnicities, too) lived affectionately together and that foreigners set them apart. Of course they lived together, but the question is under what conditions? A few days ago I was in Tunis on a conference and a Turkish friend colleague, Professor at the University of Istanbul told that a friend of his, Greek from Constantinople -like myself- who left his place of birth and was established in Greece and that in Turkey it was better... I do not question the truthfulness of what my Turkish colleague said. I believe that this is what my Greek fellow-citizen told him. First of all I know that he said these things because he is still scared and he wants to propitiate those who chased him away from his native land. But, apart from that, this story looks like the case of the widow that was beaten up by her husband, tortured by him, and when he died she was crying behind his coffin saying "didn't we have a good life together my hubby".
But to capitulate the way, in which Muslims/Turks and non-Muslims/Greeks lived together, I will mention a Greek adage saying, "Have you seen a Turk? He wants aktse-money, have seen another one? He wants more money". And a Turkish adage saying "An Ottoman -meaning by this the official Muslim, the statesman- neither seeds nor reaps; instead, he is a partner in your meal".
I now return to the fact that the ethnicities lived together and apart. This "apart" has another dimension that is an interesting particularity of the system. An intense differentiation is observed in the chapter of the ethnicities' social modernisation. For various reasons the discussion of which is beyond this occasion, the Greeks were the first to modernise, the Armenians followed with some delay, the Jews joined them very belatedly and the Turks and Arabs followed on. The last ones to be modernised were the Kurds. Modernisation in the Ottoman multi-national society means westernisation. This process starts off from the economy. It is amazing, but absolutely true. The misfuncions of the Ottoman system, in parallel with the intensifying oppression, had a positive outcome, too. They contributed in making the Greeks the first to find within the system ways of dissolving the feudal relations surrounding them and to enter capitalism, and, in one word, to pass gradually from the traditional pattern of the society to forms of a developed non-traditional society. I could go on and on providing you with statistic data for two areas, economy and education. For example, in the start of the twentieth century, although the Greeks were the twenty percent (20%) of the whole population and the Muslim the sixty-five percent (65%) thereof, the Greeks possessed fifty percent (50%) of the total capital and sixty percent (60%) of the total labour, and the Muslim just fifteen percent (15%) (and this in state enterprises). The commerce, and generally the tertiary sector of the economy, had literally passed in the hand of the non-Muslim, mainly Greeks Armenians, not Jews. The same can be seen in the sector of education where the proportion between Christian and Muslim students is four to one. And we know that the development of the education follows the development of the economy and mainly the boom of the tertiary sector...
One more pertinent point is that the Greeks realised their social modernisation having as reference group the western nations. The Turks took as example the Greeks that had as reference group the western nations. One small example here cannot harm. The first western-type novel to be translated into Greek was Fenelon's "Telemaque" in 1738. The first novel to be translated into Turkish was the same, only 125 years later.
In other words the emergent new powers within the Ottoman society were the non-Muslim. And this exactly is the point of departure of the problem that we are experiencing today and that will seemingly go on unresolved for much further. The problem is simple in its conception but for a long time no one had noticed it or rather had pronounced it in a scholarly manner. The first to locate it was a very significant Turkish writer, Taner Akcam in a work the first and extended form of which is written in German and has been translated and appeared in Turkish, too. The title of the work is "Torture and Tyranny in Our Political Culture", meaning the Turkish one. Now then, the Turkish scholar says the following: "The social modernisation in all western countries has been accomplished through the assumption of the political authority by the emerging new social powers or by their coalition with the old ones. Conversely, in the Ottoman/Turkish state the new powers that were the Christians not only did not become partners, but they were eliminated, that is they underwent ethnic cleansing". The above is said by a Turkish writer.
Third: The Greek state, established in 1829, following the Greek Revolution of 1821, obviously did not include all Greeks of the Ottoman Empire. It was created in a small region of the state and it included close to the one sixth (1/6) of the then total Greek population. At this point I would like to give a couple of clarifications. The first relates to the revolution itself. The Turkish writers that follow the official historiographic line claim that the revolution was kindled by the European powers and the Russians. This is an utter mistake. Because the revolution happened in spite of the then European powers that coalesced in the Holy Alliance, the policy of which was to preserve and not to dissolve the Ottoman Empire. But what happened is well known. The intellectuals of the time in European countries sighing under the authoritarian regimes of the Holy Alliance, being themselves nurtured by, and conversant in classical Greek paideia (letters), saw in the face of the revolted the offspring of glorious ancestors, a struggle between freedom and tyranny, Christianity and Islam, culture and barbarity. More importantly, however, they wanted to express their opposition to their own regimes and they motivated, opinion leaders as they were, the public opinion of their countries in favour of the revolted. For the first time in the history of humanity the public opinion played a role in the adoption, eventually, on the part of the European governments of a plan for the establishment of a state formally independent. This state would be on the one hand a sort of protectorate of the Great Powers (the protecting or befriending powers as they are called in Greek historiography) and on the other would allow the blackmailing of he Ottoman government so as to acquiesce to the demands of the European countries.
The second point I want to clarify concerns the departure of the Muslim inhabitants after the establishment of the Greek state. This is something that Turkish writers in our days present as for example Toktomis Ates as the reason for the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Turkish state. The percentage of the aforementioned Muslims in Peloponnese was 18% of the whole population and in its overwhelming majority it was occupation troops, administration employees and big landowners. Besides, that population had been established after 1718, when Peloponnese was seized anew by the Ottoman army. Because the Venetians that occupied it earlier had chased out all its Muslim population. Thus, the Muslims forced to depart were on century-long settlers. Similar was the case with English or French colonies in many places of the globe. Or is the demand for departure of the settlers in North Cyprus, settlers who established themselves in the lands seized violently by Turkey in 1974 (ethnic cleansing)?
The Greek Revolution had, thus, two direct outcomes. The one is that part of Greeks acquired its supposed political independence, while the bigger part did not get it. Consequently, the struggle for integration, or the dear departed Dakin said, of unification of Greece started. Things are not as the Turkish authors who follow the official historical outlook cunningly say, namely that an expansionist state against Turkey was established. Because they want to identify unacceptably the Ottoman Empire with the present-day Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was a multi-national state and Greece (and Greeks) has as many rights over it as Turkey (that is, the Turks). The Turks were also, as were the Greeks, one of the ethnicities that formed its population. And, if you like, as Turkish authors admit, the Turks were also a (minority), just like the Greeks.
The founding of Greece had as a consequence the corresponding creation of ideological mechanisms. I would like, leaving for a future time an extending treatment of this subject, to stress that Greece, because it was established in a periphery of the Empire, maintained an egotistic localism full of misery and wretchedness. We observe this on two levels, different and antithetic among themselves, so much in the management of the ideology of the Great Idea (that is, the liberation of the subordinates) that functioned as sublimation of weakness, as much in the internal politics following 1923 until today, where, essentially, the one third (1/3) of the population - if not more, remained and remains, in the margin of the political life, its rearmost parameter. I am talking about the refugees who took to Greece following ethnic cleansing of the areas by Turkey. The interesting thing with regard to this is that these Greeks in their places of origin were deprived of independent political authorities to the end, being prey so much of the Greek governments that guided their fortunes on their account, as much as of the Constantinople Patriarchate that according to the Ottoman system had shouldered their presentation (as their religious community that its was). It will sound strange to many, but eventually the official Greek state and church did not accomplish what was expected of them on the part of the non-represented by political authorities Greek populations. But this is another story, not in the least simple, in which are involved politics of foreign countries, too.
The second outcome of the establishment of the Greek State is that it precipitated the efforts as westernization and in general at modernization of the Ottoman State. We must stress that these efforts start basically from the military sector. Because the Ottomans, who previously underestimated the Europeans as Christians found out that the latter became stronger by the day in the military field and could no more be won as easily as previously. So the thought to adopt new methods related to the martial arts. And until now the modernization of Turkey starts basically from the modernization of its armed forces. But the Greek Revolution and the creation of the Greek State made the Sultan (Mahmud the Second) and his environment think the following:
The Greeks succeeded because they showed that they were Europeans, but also that they were overly dominated by a system of ethnic and religious discriminations against them. We will show, too, that we are Europeans. The "how" is simple. First of all they were to change their formal dress. Thus, it was decided that the sarik, the potur and the nimten were to be abolished form the clothing of the military and civil servants, namely elements of the eastern way of dressing, and they were to be replaced by jacket and trousers. Only instead of hut or kepi the fez was introduced from Morocco. When in 1912 the New Turks (Jeunes Turks) wanted to make a step forward, them too, Enver Pasha established (enveriye), a cross between hut and fez. And few years later Ataturk imposed obligatory that all wear hut. But the head, the thought that is, or more correctly its structure, remained the same. It is about the difference between seeming and being, form and essence.
After that an official assurance was given by the Sultan to the foreign ambassadors that from then on equality before the law, and lawfulness would apply between Christians and Muslims. It is about the well-known Tanzimat 1838 declaration. How exactly this decision was applied is recounted by my Professor Resat Kaynar, blessed his memory: A European in Galata, Constantinople, pressed charges against a Muslim who had insulted him calling him giaur-infidel in a police department. The head of the department called the tresspasser and reprimanded him. (Don't you know(, said he, that Tanzimat applies and you should not call a giaur one?
Modernization meant also adoption of institutions from the West, that was added to traditional ones. Next to traditional Islamic education European-type schools were added, next to traditional Islamic courts of justice commercial tribunals were added, too, mainly for foreigners. Because these assurances concerning equality were offered, because all these positive steps were taken. An important parameter was the need of economic support and of inflow if European capital into the country. If one pays attention, the declarations are accompanied by economic claims.
The effect of the Greek Revolution of 1821 in the precipitation and acceleration of the efforts at modernization of the Ottoman state has been located at first by Professor Yalcin Kucuk, an enlightened and progressive Turkish intellectual. Nonetheless, the same process has been followed ever since until today. Because declarations remained declarations and the real situation was anything but pleasant, during critical periods the same or renewed promises were made. In 1856, for example, Turkey, in order to participate in the European conference of that year, provided a new official assurance, the so-called "islahat fermani", that is a Sultan's declaration for a generalized improvement. But not everything was improved. In 1876 Turkey in order to be able to participate in the conference of European countries declared the adoption of a constitution - which., although it was authoritarian and anything but responded to the Zeitgeist, it applied for four months, following which the Sultan had both the Parliament abolished and the author of the constitution himself arrested and murdered. This happened because the Sultan had pursued with the "introduction" of a Constitution, he had already accomplished. But the same happened during the political changeover of 1908, when the officers of middle rank that served in the European part of the Empire, and especially in Macedonia, pressed the Sultan to bring to effect the Constitution that he had suspended for thirty two (32) years. As Professor Sina Aksin very correctly remarks, these officers had been annoyed by the fact that the Sultan followed a Germanophile policy and they missed the glorious days of the British-French –Turkish alliance that had rejoiced in the War of Crimea. But the Sultan had not made his choice spontaneously, he was forced to it – besides was not he himself that had granted Cyprus to Britain? Because meanwhile the relations between Great Britain, Russia and France had been restored. Besides, the same dilemma was met by the officers themselves and more generally the movement of the Jeunes Turcs in the form of its committee and its political party "Union and Progress", when it acceded to the authority. It pursued an alliance with England and France, but, because Russia participated in this alliance, it was forced to go over to the opposite camp with Germany. But let us come to the point at issue: the officers of middle and lower rank precipitated their movement for return of the Constitution when they were informed that a decision of the allies – of Great Britain and France – regarding autonomy of Macedonia (as a geographical and multi-national area) was pending, and it was rumoured that, on top of that, a Greek would be appointed as governor.
These middle-rank officers and the "Union and Progress" party more generally were not bourgeois themselves; they did not form the middle class of the country, that is. From what I have said so far it can be deduced that at the time the middle class, meaning the new forces emerging in society, were constituted by Christian ethnicities. But the "Union and Progress" and these officers may not have been middle class themselves, but, as Turkish writers argue, they were activated by the desire to become middle class (burjuva özentisi). Thus, placing aside their declarations for equality before the law and the society between Christians and Muslims just three months after the festivities for the reinstatement of democratic institutions they mounted persecutions against the Christian populations, i.e. the Greeks and the Armenians. These persecutions had initially the character of economic exclusion (boycotage) and also of other fiscal measures, too, against Christian populations, and they went on with expulsions, forced deportations and persecutions against these populations until the well-known brutalities that assumed the form of natural extinction. They planned to supplant Muslim private individuals in the place of Christians in the economy by means of the hand of the state and violence. Meaning, simpler said, that they removed predatorily the means of production from the Christians and they allocated them to Muslim notables of Asia Minor or to members and friends of the "Union and Progress". And because Greeks and Armenians mainly represented on a mercantile level the English and French capital, - especially after 1914 - , the neophytes (the newly established) Muslim middle class undertook to act as agents of the – opposing to these interests – German capital. In this way the alliance with Germany during World War I knew a pragmatic importance, too.
Nevertheless the Ottoman Empire enters the World War I in 1914. Until the last moment the leaders of "Union and Progress" hoped for a cooperation with the allies. Meanwhile the Balkan war of 1912 takes place. The pretext in the alliance of the Balkan countries (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro) was that the democratization proclaimed by the political changeover of 1908 not only had not materialised but that the situation of Christian populations was getting worse. The catchword, therefore, was the freeing of populations from Ottoman despotism. In the context of this war Greece acquired a great part of Macedonia and, of course, the islands of the Eastern Aegean. It must be noted as emphatically as possible that the islands of the Eastern Aegean had an almost unalloyed Greek population – it is debatable if, on the larger of these, there was a five percent (5%) proportion of Muslims that were military and civil state servants.
From October 1912 until 1914 that the Ottoman Empire emerges on the side of Germany and the powers of Communication, there intervene two years approximately, during which the governments of "Union and Progress" were flirting with the allies, Great Britain, France and Russia. Usually, this is forgotten. Thus, the allies forced the Greek government to start negotiations with the Ottoman government for the determination of a regime of some sort of condominium, a co-sovereignty in the Eastern Aegean – negotiations interrupted when, in 1914, the war was declared and Turkey went over to the powers of Communication. Moreover, let me add that at the time Britain and France asked Greece to return the islands Imvros and Tenedos to Turkey because of their neighboring the Dardanellia Straits. And Russia, exceeding herself, asked for the islands of Lemnos and Thasos to be returned back for the same reason.
But when we say "co-sovereignty" in the Aegean we tend to forget the most essential. At the time the population of the islands of the Eastern Aegean was of equal composition in ethnological terms with that of the shores – please my attention, I am saying the shores, that is the strip of land opposite the islands. This means that the shores across the islands had in their majority Greek population. It is to be anticipated, therefore, that something of that sort would be discussed, since these islands and the opposite shores shared a cultural, political and economic union for thousands of years. Namely, islands and shores in the same way that they formed a uniform geo-physical whole they also formed a uniform geo-political, geo-cultural, geo-strategic and geo-financial unity. The ethnic cleansing that took place in 1922 abolished the age-long unity.
Fourth: But how did we go to 1922 when, supposedly, the differences between Greeks and Turks were sorted out, and, through the Peace Treaty signed next year in Lausanne, also supposedly, the foundations for a permanent peace and co-operation between the two countries, Greece and Turkey were laid?
The Ottoman Empire is transformed to the Turkish State, both actually and formally, from the declaration of World War I onwards. This phrase may sound absurd but it unfortunately contains a tragedy. It is about what I mentioned a while ago. From a multi-national state it is turned to a national one, and not only the right participation in political authority is not acknowledged to other ethnicities, but their physical extinction itself is systematised. Answerable for this was the government of "Union and Progress", through the para-state criminals' organisations that it had mobilised. One of those was (Teskilati Mahousasa(, too, that had as objective, among others, the mobilization of the Muslims of Central Asia so that they rise against Russia. This hoped-for rise is what is more simply called (Panturanism). Generally, the (Union of Progress) behaved towards the Christian ethnicities in particular, more or less similarly to the way the Nazis behaved during World War II. After the end of the 1922 war, the allies did what would systematically do after the end of World War II: they asked that the culpables were arrested and taken to prisons waiting to be judged, or escaped arrest. Nonetheless, the murderous gangs went on with their undertaking, mainly in the countryside. Thus, two things were decided on the part of the allies: on the one hand that the Greek army be expedited to Smyrna to protect the Greeks that were numerous in the area, and on the other for Mustafa Kemal to go to the area of the Black sea, following the Sultan's intervention which was approved by the English. Kemal was a successful general who had contested the leadership of (Union and Progress). At this point I would like to stress that the Kemalist movement is a sectarian movement of Union and Progress, it is really an antagonism of fractions. Besides, many Turkish writers acknowledge this. We could very generally argue that while the leadership of Union and Progress was Germanophile, Mustafa Kemal was Anglophile - his subsequent trajectory ascertains this claim. It is strange, but the basic rationale of sending off both Greek troops and Kemal - this happened with a week's distance in May 1919 - was exactly the same. Mustafa Kemal, however, organised his movement from among people pursued for war crimes. Kurdish tribal chiefs who supported him were in danger too, because they became, on many occasions, execution instruments for the massive massacre of the Armenian neighbours. And it was not just that: there was also the immediate danger for the stolen goods, mainly real estates of the persecuted, to have to be returned. The persecutions did not happen so much for the natural extinction of the persecuted, as for the appropriation of the riches. A proof of what I am saying is that when Mustafa Kemal arrived to Samsun in the area of the Black Sea, the first person that he met was Topal Osman, a literal butcher who started his career in Macedonia, continued it by slaughtering the Armenians and the Greeks of Pontus and finally the Kurds. Topal Osman went under the command of Kemal and intensified his activity.
Finally, a remark relating to Greece. What were the Greek troops looking for in trying to forward towards Ankara, that is in the depths of Asia Minor? The question is naive. Undoubtedly, they did not try to conquer the whole of Asia Minor, but, according to the proposition of Lloyd George, who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time, they tried to bend the armed resistance of the Ankara nationalists. The latter had come to rift with the Sultan's government that was based in Istanbul - on the issue of the application of the provisions of the Sevres Treaty. We must definitely sort out certain misunderstandings. With this Treaty, which is equivalent to that of Versailles, which namely, seal the end of World War I, six per cent (6%) of the total territories of today's Turkey came to Greece (the area of Eastern Thrace and a part of the area of Smyrna). This proportion corresponds to a Greek population living there that was almost 18% of the whole Turkish population, meaning that 18% if the population took 6% of the territory. Compare this with the situation in Cyprus: Today in Cyprus 18% of the population, namely the Turkish-Cypriots, have 40% of the territory, and both the international community and the Greek side implores them for a two-zone federation to no avail. From a territorial point of view the Sevres Treaty in its larger part referred to the independent state of Kourdistan and Armenia...This is often forgotten.
The defeat of the Greek troops in Asia Minor has been the outcome of a series of mistakes and misfortunes. A first reason has been the self-disintegration of the army due to political clashes in Greece. Next, there has been the unbounded mine of economic help and of weapons that came from the Bolshevik regime (just think that the whole budget of the Kemalist state in the critical years 1921-22 was provided by the Soviet). Why exactly this was done by the then Soviet leadership has certain tangible consequences for capturing the present situation: after the October Revolution the allies, mainly Britain, wanted to forestall the descent of the red army in Caucasus. Initially, the trans-Caucasian federation was founded - Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, to be later dissolved, and the three independent states could not resist the Bolshevik storm. The dream of a Great Armenian State (including the Greeks of the Pontus) that was about to be created in Eastern Asia Minor looked something non-realistic, or difficult to be established. This is why not only the Soviets supported Kemal by the allies, too. Both sides anticipated for Turkey a role of buffer state, meaning an intermediate state. This, surely, had as consequence the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of civilians from their ancestors' hearths. But this goes over the head of international politics, or has only a limited importance.
That the Turkish military victory against the Greek forces was not an easy thing can be seen in one detail. As the wise Turkish Professor Bilge Umar describes, even to the last moment, when Smyrna was on fire and the Turkish leadership had moved its headquarters into the city, its was still possible for the result to be overruled within few hours.
One more point, following which we arrive in our days. It is sometimes said that both sides committed atrocities in the end of the day. George Horton, this selfless American diplomat, has highlighted how devious such a claim is. Because the magnitudes are utterly unequal... Nonetheless, let me stress here that it is definitely not suitable to occupy oneself with a logistic enumeration of macabre incidents. But the act must be condemned and the ideology that created and creates atrocities should stop being reproduced.
The defeat of the Greek troops had a shocking consequence. The completion of ethnic cleansing of Christian populations. This is usually more elegantly but deceitfully called (exchange of populations). For one, first were the Christian populations or their largest part chased, and then the exchange was determined. With this exchange, around four hundred thousand (400.000) Muslims from Greece were exchanged for million and a half (1.500.000) Orthodox Christians from Turkey. A remark: there were around two million four hundred thousand (2.400.000) Greeks - the rest obviously could not make it to the exchange, they were forestalled by death. And even if there are objections as for the number of Greeks, whether they were less, etc., I hasten to inform that in the proceedings of a mixed international committee that was signed by Turkey, too in 1950 the ignored were six hundred thousand (600.000)... And something more: it seems that Venizelos on the Greek part, too, hten the beginning wanted eventually an exchange, but on a one-to-one basis, in which case we would have arrived at the frontiers provided for by the Treaty of Sevres.
Fifth: The Treaty of Lausanne, in which this alleged exchange of populations was decided, laid the foundations for a Greek-Turkish peaceful coexistence. I must be underlined that this Treaty is the first revisionist treaty after World War I. Revisionism is the politics followed by some countries after World War I, countries that were either defeated, and were imposed very cumbersome terms by the victors, or they did not obtain that they wanted, and desired to revise the terms that put an end to World War I. Example number one: Germany. Example number two: Italy. What Germany did not accomplish with World War II, namely to revise the Treaty of Versailles, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk did accomplish in revising the Sevres Treaty.
The Treaty of Lausanne, however, appears not to be statically but dynamically revisionist. It has the characteristic of being continuously revised in favour of Turkey. Right after the signing of the Treaty few knew that in Turkey there started to be talk of the islands of the Aegean, and the country started being armed straightaway, with particular emphasis on her naval force. Because it should be stressed that during the war of 1920-22 the Turkish Navy was completely non-existent and did not participate. The Greeks' domination of the sea was absolute.
In 1930 - seven years after the Lausanne Treaty - we have the historical rapprochement of the two peoples, what is usually called the Greek-Turkish friendship, of the utmost work of two utmost political men, Ataturk and Venizelos. If one bypasses the contribution of foreign powers in this historical rapprochement, of Great Britain and of the fascist Italy, which at the time sided with Great Britain the essence of the rapprochement is as follows:
1930 comes after 1929. And 1929 was the year of international economic crash that had impacts on Greece and Turkey. Greece, a poor country at the time, had, apart from all the rest, to shelter and rehabilitates 1.500.000 refugees. On the other hand she was obliged to go in for a frenetic armament race in the navy - the air forces were not developed at the time - to confront Turkey. On the opposite shores, in Turkey, the situation was even worse. Because in this year the revolt of Kurds culminates and its violent stifling is pursued, while the opposition against Ataturk also reaches a peak. Ataturk has established his individual regime. Reactions against cultural transformations that he dares also culminate, and he is forced to intensify the oppressive measures. In order to defuse the climate he has his sister and his most faithful friend, Fethi Okyar, establish an opposition party - the regime is one-party. Okyar goes to Smyrna and the people fall in her feet saying (rescue us from him). On this, Ataturk's biographer Sefket Suurreya Ajdemir observes "rescue them from whom, from the man who rescued them from Greeks just seven years ago".
On the basis of the Treaty of Lausanne, both countries had the obligation to compensate the refugees for the fortunes that they left in their native lands. And it is obvious that the fortunes of 1.500.000 people, indeed affluent people, were larger than those of 400.000. But Turkey did not compensate, it asked for the international arbitration that was anticipated to be bypassed. Meanwhile, bilateral negotiations started that went on and on. Venizelos, who finally saw that he would not recover anything, suggested for the debt to be written off and for a treaty to be signed, on the basis of which the two parts would take the responsibility not to proceed in the purchase of military materials without mutual agreement. This practically meant that Greece, that had great supremacy in the navy, would maintain its sea power, particularly over the Aegean. Besides, this is confirmed by two facts. The first relates to the increase by Greece of her air space to 10 miles in 1930 with Turkey's consent and to the simultaneous approval by Greece in 1936 of the alteration of the convention of Lausanne relating to Straits which demilitarized the Straits of Bosphorous and Dardanellia. This practically means that Turkey acquired full control of the latter with the consent of Greece and that Greece acquired the control of the Aegean. This is the Greek-Turkish friendship between Venizelos and Ataturk, the price for which was paid by the refugees.
Meanwhile, if one looks carefully at the events that ensued he/she will realise that even on the eve of World War II, but also during this War, Turkey came back to the issue of the islands. As it is known, Turkey did not participate in this War like Greece did. Nonetheless, during negotiations relating to her descent to the War, now with the Axis powers, she was asking for the islands of the Eastern Aegean in advance. The archival materials on this issue are impressive. But to avoid dragging on, I will return to the beginning of the 1950s, when the two countries were wallowing in seas of bliss due to the "common threat from the North".
Mehmet Saka, a Turkish scholar of international relations claims in his 1952 dissertation supported in the Law School of the University of Paris that because of the "threat from the North", Greece should hire out for ninety years all the islands of the Eastern Aegean to Turkey, to prove first, the sincerity of her friendship and second, to acquire Turkey's protection. In the summer of 1954, even before the Cyprus issue was brought up, namely the demand of the Cypriots for self-determination, Professor Nihat Erim, an eminent member of the opposition, and a subsequent adviser of all Turkish governments on the Greek-Turkish relations, suggested that Cyprus become a condominium, which condominium spread in those islands of the Eastern Aegean which are at a distance of 50 miles from the shores of Asia Minor. It is amazing, but this means, translated on a map, all the area from the 25o Meridian - which, if extrapolated, passes from the borders of the Greek Thrace. It is the same space for which the well-known negotiations for a condominium regime took place and were interrupted in 1914. But then, as we said, the population on the islands and in the shores across the sea was of common origins. It is obvious that Turkey, after having carried out ethnic cleansing in Asia Minor, now goes a step ahead and asks for co-sovereignty in the islands, too. Especially if one judges from the case of Imvros and Tenedos, two islands of unmixed Greek population, particularly Imvros, that devoted to Turkey with the Treaty of Lausanne on the condition of a self-government that was never applied, and the population of which became fully Turkish within twenty years as a result of the oppressive measures taken, one can realise what would have happened in the case of co-sovereignty or of hiring out to Turkey of the rest of the islands, too...
The most important is that the 25o Meridian in Thrace coincides with the area where in 1913 - the same area always - the "Teksilati Mahsusa", that is the para-states of the "Union and Progress" tried to establish an alleged State of Thrace. This is and experiment that the same powers tried to repeat in 1919 in Kars of Asia Minor, and which, according to Professor Yalcin Kiucuk, was the pattern of organization of the contemporary Turkish state. Exactly the same pattern was adopted in the case of the alleged Turko-Cypriot state of Northern Cyprus. According to this model, the co-operating powers are he secret services, the Mafia underworld, and the army. The above, according to Yaltcin Kucuk. And if two years ago an accidental event did not take place in Turkey, we would not have realised that the same situation appears to go on today. In the traffic accident at Susurluk it was revealed that the political leadership, the army and the secret services collaborate with the Mafia. Dead out of the car wreckage were pulled a minister, a Mafia murderer, supposedly wanted by the police, and a representative of the alleged security authorities - the Mafia man had boasted in the past that he had set on fire forests on the Greek islands. This event left all thinking Turkish people speechless and made them speculate...
And in coming back to the 25o Meridian, I am stressing that this is the limit of the Turkish claims under the pretext of the continental shelf, or any other argument put forward. The claims remain unaltered since 1913.
But let us come to the present day in order to close this condensed overview of the Greek-Turkish problems. In 1978 appears the first volume of a pre-eminent work - it is the collection of diplomatic documents - edited by Bilal Simsir, a professor and the Director of Planning of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The subject of the book was "The Aegean Question". This is an official publication. In the preface of the book, Simsir writes the following verbatim: "Greece was created by the sea. In 1821 the rebels turned against the Turkish flotilla with their own flotilla, and when the Turkish flotilla was destroyed, Greece was created" (the Ottoman flotilla was destroyed by the admirals of the Allies, as is well known). Until 1912, goes on Simsir, there was a balance in the Aegean, the islands of the Western Aegean were Greek, Crete was a independent, Cyprus was British, and the islands of the Eastern Aegean were Turkish. This balance was overturned by Admiral Kountouriotis, when, in October 1912, he destroyed the Turkish flotilla outside the promontory Elli in the Dardanelles... Ever since the sea power in the Aegean passed in the hands of the Greeks, until the 29th of May of 1974, when, during a special ceremony in which state officials were present, the surveying war ship of the Cantarli Surveying Service set sail from Instabul for the Aegean, in order not, of course, to realise surveys, but to question the sea power of the Greeks. This is the starting point of the second round..." Remark: the 29th of May is the anniversary if the Fall of the Constantinople-Instabul by the Turks. The choice of this day is indicative of the weight of this act. Second, every spring in the time of the Sultans, following a similar ceremony, the flotilla sailed off for the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and it returned back in the autumn with pillages...
Two years ago, in a series of articles in the newspaper Czumhuriyet - a very progressive and radical newspaper of the moderate left, the Admiral tansu Erdem said the following, that made it into the cover title, verbatim: "the problems of Turkey with the Aegean spring from the injustice suffered by Turkey as a result of the Balkan War, the First and the Second World War, and they must be amended". Thus, Turkey's revisionism pursues restoration of the situation before the Balkan wars...in 1912. I do not think that I need to add anything further at this point...What the Turkish side does not want to understand is that the Empire did not belong to Turks alone, and that it was constituted, fairly or unfairly, it does not matter at this moment, with the contribution of several ethnicities. It was not the exclusive property of the nation alone...
Sixth: The mental identification of the multi-national Ottoman Empire with the Turkish state comes also from the fact that, during all its historical trajectory non-Muslims' co-participation rights in political authority alongside Muslims were never acknowledged. Ever. And in the critical turning point in the beginning of this century the Turkish nationalism used the method of "Turkisation" of all Muslim citizens - at least as many as it was possible. The nation is the creation of the state in Turkey in the same way that the bourgeois class is. Not of Society itself. The nation did not create the State - quite the opposite happened. Similar cases are not unknown in History, but the methods are different. The particularity of Turkey is Turkish national identity, as it was fabricated by the founders of the modern state, was imposed with military violence, while in other countries, like the united States, for example, it was promoted through democratic processes. Taner Aktsam, in his exceptional book "The Armenian Question and the Problem of Turkish National Identity", claims that not only is present-day Turkey created from the blood of non-Muslims that were exterminated - and the guild originating from this extinction marks national ideology and political behaviour - but that the content of the fabricated, the given national identity, exactly because it is fabricated, remains alien to the needs of the society and of the time, as well as of the historical and social reality. The Nazi Germany carried out the extinction of the Jewish population, but no one can question this fact, not even themselves to get warm. A few days ago, as you know, a French court of justice can convict those that argue that similar facts - that are not exactly unique in history, not even in our time - happened in Turkey, too. And this is the worst revisionism.
In 1938 Turkey took the Alexandretta area in the Turkish frontiers, a supposed independent state. The then Turkish Foreign minister Tevlik Rustu Aras prided himself on that being Turkey's Anschulz, implying the annexing of Austria by the Nazist Germany. Austria became an independent state after the war, of course, but Alexandretta remained a province of Turkey. Maybe this is not the main thing. The main thing is that the majority of Alexandretta's inhabitants at the time, some 500.000 people, were Arabs. Have you ever heard today any talk about Arabs in Turkey, although their number totals more than two million five hundred thousand (2.500.000)?
Seventh: This is why I am not going to mention the Cyprus question at all today...As a solution is portrayed by the international community the bi-communal, bi-regional federation, in which the two communities will have political equity. And the Turkish side asks for more, like, for example, the acknowledgement as equal of two independent states, a Greek-Cypriot and a Turkish-Cypriot. But you cannot ask of your fellow-being to be honest, while you are not. The example of the Arabs is the least. Look at the fact that 18% of the Turkish population are Kurds - like the percentage of the Turkish-Cypriots - who do not have the right of self-determination of their national identity, nor to speak their mother language...We are talking about 12 to 16 million people, not a hundred and twenty thousands (120.000) that are the Turkish-Cypriots... Why does not Turkey start off applying the solution that it proposes for Cyprus on itself? And not just this, but thousands of Kurdish villages are set on fire and ruined by the national forces, and their population is being scattered at the four ends of the earth. In Turkey all sorts of bizarre things happen. To support the national identity of the Kurds does not only mean that you are an enemy of Turkey, but that you are a terrorist, too. However, you just cannot be a terrorist and accuse others as terrorists.
To start with, I would see positively a solution for Cyprus that would render it something similar to Belgium or Luxembourg - because international conjunctions and experiences that were comparable, more or less, to those existing in Cyprus, founded these states. But, armies are sent neither to Belgium nor to Luxembourg to seize them by countries like France, Germany of Holland. And the free movement of persons, commodities, and ideas is absolute. The population of Luxembourg or of Belgium is not terrorised by any neighbouring country.
In the middle of the 1920s, as a foreign commentator conveys, a local commander in Turkey prophesised that in fifty years the country would be so strong as to terrorise her neighbours. The prophecy came absolutely true. And to return to the Ottoman authority structure. We said that the cohesive power that ensured the existence and the reproduction of the Ottoman state was fear. This happens in our days, too. Turkey seeds fear among her own citizens through her anti-democratic regime, she intimidates Greece. It has been observed that the more the balance in the armed forces of the two countries is disturbed, something that gets worse with each passing year, especially in the air forces, the more the military challenges of Turkey and the intimidation of Greece and her population increase.
In reality, it is about the aforementioned pattern of couplets of relations (not horizontal but vertical) that constitute the Turkish authority structure, the mediaeval structure well known from the sermons of the Church Fathers. Thus, Turkey loves Greece and Greece fears Turkey. The founder of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, had said a few months before he died in 1938, that Turkey and Greece are like a married couple. Only that the female role, according to the Turkish stereotypes must be played by Greece. As a series of investigations conducted in Turkey have evidenced, to the question how does your husband react when you disagree, a solid 70% answered "he beats me and maltreats me". Still, these women were happy with their marriage, because they were brought up to be this way. But, as you can understand, Greece neither wants to play this role, nor Turkey's protection. Greece is fed up with protectors...
Eighth: We almost reached the end of the tiresome and exhausting elaboration. The question I am always posed by my audience is: What do you see happening? I personally disassociate the Greek-Turkish relations from the Greek-Turkish relations. What does this mean? The solution is found within Turkey itself, in turkey itself. If she does not democratise completely and really and of she does not modernise fully and substantially, only temporary solutions can be given – if they be given, and this whole affair will continue in the unforeseeable future with unforeseeable consequences. Nonetheless, I insist that the democratisation and the modernisation must be real, not nominal, fictitious. Until now, all the steps in this direction taken by the state in a vertical sense, from up high downwards, were nominal, ostensible, schematic. However, I must remember at this point the honest confession of the present President of the Turkish Republic, Süleiman Demirel, to journalists about two years ago: "If we democratise as the Europeans wants us to, and we do what they do, we will dissipate, and we do not want to dissipate". Is this a cynical confession or a slip of the tongue? We do not want, and we are stressing this, any territorial disintegration of Turkey. But we want the dissintegration of this despotic, tyrannical regime. We want a Turkey like Spain, for example…
But they are telling us: Place us in the European Union so that we can advance our Europeanisation. Europe has been hearing this song since 1838, as I said earlier, and neither touches us nor rouses us any more. You first pay and then you buy the product. Otherwise, the whole thing looks like a couple’s situation, whereby the two have a long lasting, but problematic relationship, and people suggest "get married to correct all evils". And they do get married and it all gets worse, and the divorce is inevitable with all sorts of harmful consequences.
Ninth: The condition of democratisation and modernisation of Turkey is in its turn conditioned, too. We must understand the peculiarities facing Turkey, which spring from many factors that we either ignore, or we analyse mechanistically… Thus, Turkey is an allegedly secularistic country: Her state is secularist while the society is not. Authenticated research has shown that 90% of the population is devout, very devout. And Turkey is a Muslim country – and it is very difficult for a Muslim country to embrace democracy substantially, in the way it happens in Western societies. This is a notion and a practice that oppose Islam structures, both mental and of political behaviour. On the other hand, as we said in the beginning, the Ottoman State has never been sheer Islamic. This is exactly the case with present-day Turkey. Even the Turkish Islam does not resemble that of other countries. It is not even just one Islam in Turkey, it is about several (something proven by the strong movement of the Alevites and the political authority that is shared by the numerous religious heresies/organisations, the so-called tarikat).
There is something that must be understood, namely what the Professor Idris Kucukomer has remarked many years ago. He was both a leftist and not Islamic at all. He said that it is a mistake to see the Islamic movement, a party with an age-long tradition behind it, as reactionary, and see Kemalism's secularism as progressive. Why? Because the former express live, popular strata, while the latter an elitist class detached from the people. In the idiosyncratic political form that Turkey disposes of, the right, and particularly the Islamic right, plays the role that is being played by the left in Western societies.
Tenth: Finally, any theoretical hypothesis that concerns the present and the future of Turkey must take into consideration the huge cultural gap that exists within the country. On the basis of research conducted in Turkey relating to life-styles, but also of much other research, it appears that only 10% of the population has modernised and does not differ significantly from the rest of the Europeans. Still, there is something else: In Turkey, as you know, there is a demographic boom. And with regard to this point there is one, or, more correctly, two gaps. The first is that between modernised and non-modernised. The former presents a demographic ageing, like in the rest of Europe. They have one or two children on the average. But, because the boom happens among the non-modernised, we are going towards a continuous isolation of the former, who feel as a minority within their very country. And in 2020, for example, Turkey, if we extrapolate these trends, will be 90 million, but the proportion of the modernised will be somewhat lower than today. Meaning that in the 21st century the demand for social modernisation will be much more fierce and more urgent than it was in the beginning of the 20th century. The second gap refers to the ethnicities. It has been observed that the Kurds increase almost twice than the Turks, something meaning that they, being today 18% of the population, will be 40% in the next century.
On the basis of the arguments developed so far, certain components of the problems can be discerned:
First: The Kurdish issue must be sorted out speedily. This means democratization of the regime.
Second: The great problem of Islam must be sorted out. This means genuine modernisation.
Third: Turkey must claim her Greek historical past, to the extent that it belongs to her. The Turkish society, from the points of view of origin and culture has very limited relations to Central Asia, because it is an organic continuation of pre-existing societies. If she does not do this, she will symbolically “hover” forever over her territories, never really “landing” anywhere. Byzantium, for example, is part of the past of the Turkish society, too, not only of the Greek society. This means revision and reconstitution of her ideology and her mentality, of her historical perspective more generally.
On the two first components there is a lot of discussion. On the third, I can assure you, there are some indications that the process has started, and it is immaterial if this does not happen immediately and will demand many-many decades.
Of course there are responding components for Greece. More specifically:
First: The acquisition of self-confidence and the departure from the misery established by the complex of the wronged, the complaining, the dependent, too. This marks and inferiority complex, which, additionally, is expressed at times as a superiority complex, but for internal consumption. Self-confidence means acquisition of self-knowledge and responsibility.
Second: The above means that the ideological horizons and orientations of the national identity must be revised and must acquire ecumenical dimensions. An ideology that will not consume itself with memorial services and commemorations: indeed, the Greeks are, perhaps, the only people – maybe after the Jews and the Armenians – that has so many commemorations for past ravages. An ideology that will encompass all the Greek peripheries, which, particularly after 1922, have been dwindled to the present boundaries of Greece and which do not have a substantial contribution to the shaping of a common political argument (just consider that 90% of the Greek Prime Ministers originate from the same geographical periphery, Peloponnese). Greece must become mutli-centred, meaning stop being centred just around Athens. Instead, she must render the last inch of her territory into an epicentre of social, cultural, and political life.
Third: The claim on the part of Greece of its Ottoman past. It must be realised that, in the same way that the Turkish society has rights over its Greek and Byzantine past, so the Greek society has its share in the Ottoman society. Greek society is one of its successors, like Turkish society is.
On the basis of these thoughts I cannot be pessimistic. And this, because I am a sociologist and sociologists are obliged to be optimistic. I would not say the same if I were a politician. Because politicians are people of action par excellence and they are impatient. It takes a lot of time and consequently a lot of patience – like that shown by the audience. No matter that patience does not necessarily exclude indignation. But multi-sided knowledge, more often than not, does demand libations in terms of patience.