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ITHAKA ON THE HORIZON: A Greek-American Journey

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Halki Seminary

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    The Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki is located on the Turkish island known as Heyelbiada in the Bosporus straits. It was closed in 1971 by the Turkish government and is the subject of much controversy since it is the only seminary in Turkey and the position of Ecumenical Patriarch can only be filled by a Turkish citizen. Sign the petition to reopen it at www.greece.org

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08 June 2006

Comments

Ted Laskaris

"Lest we forget." Stavros, thank you for publishing this piece. As a descendant of Pontic Greeks, who lost everything including several members of the immediate family to Ottoman Turkish genocide, I say "Never Forget" and I personally will never forgive.

The Greek government has been mushy, to say the least, in pushing for international recognition of the Pontic Greeks plight. This is not surprising; official Greece these days has an aversion to anything that touches upon the immense sufferings of the Greek Nation.

Getting into bed with Turkey on the EU bid remains the worst insult to all our dead, including our latest, Group Captain Eliakis. With the current crop of "politicians" at the helm, I see little hope of things changing. Our only avenue is to lobby and protest at the grass roots level, and expose the Greek government's reluctance to recognize our history and the immense sacrifices of our ancestors.

Aritomachos Ops

Hello, here are two videos on the Pontian and other Hellenic Genocides.

http://www.kryphoscholio.com/istoria/hellenicgenocide_el.html

http://www.kryphoscholio.com/istoria/hellenicgenocide_en.html

John Anagnostis

Stavros,

You have done some wonderful work with this blog. I don't know if I told you but my mother came from Smyrna with my grandmother's family.
There is another book called "1822" that is good reading.

Jim Agoritsas

Great Blog....you have put alot of thought and effort and should be commended for offering 'something of substance'

jim and Julie Agoritsas

Jean Shawn

You are so sad.

Out of nowhere, after decades of silence, the false issue of 'hellenic genocide' is brought up by the Greeks. Tell me, you didn't get 'inspired' by the Armenian diaspora and the false armenian genocide allegations, did you? Why don't you mention the 2 MILLION Turks killed by the Greeks and its allies during the war? Ashamed?

As long as you Greeks and the Turks don't realize that Turkey and Greece should be one of the 'best-friend' nations in this world, culturally, economically and geologically, both countries' futures are doomed with failure.

Instead of sending warplanes over to Turkish airspace (or Greek airspace?), accusing them of a falsified genocide, supporting PKK terrorism in Turkey, you should start embracing them. I've travelled to both countries and it is sad to see that no Turk talks badly about Greece, but 75% of greek people hate Turks.

Stavros

Jean, its not about hatred its about remembrance. Just because folks like you don't remember or even care, doesn't mean folks like me have to forget. My family lived in Turkey for many years, I was born there and we were never taught to hate Turks. As a matter of fact, Greeks are much more tolerant of the Turks in their midst. Read the post entitled "A Tale of Two Communities." I gather from your tone and your level of historical accuracy that you are neither willing to learn or listen.
The Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides are well documented as is the current repression of Kurds in Turkey. The Turkish government does its very best to keep the historical record closed to its own people and to the world. Many Turks of good conscience have been prosecuted by the State for speaking out and telling the truth. I suggest you open your mind and at least read Thea Halo's book. Greeks would love to have good relations with their neighbor. What they are not willing to do is cower. It's rather hard to get along when you live next to an expanionist, aggressive, repressive country run by the military under the guise of a democracy. If Turkey wants to be a Western nation and an ally, it should start to act like one.

demonax

What a scandalous calumny on the great peace-adoring Greek people, who love the whole of humanity and trees and flowers and everything wholesome and cute to claim they killed 2 MILLION turks.
Anyone who knows anything about history knows these 2 MILLION turks died in a mass suicide pact.
There is another theory I was taught at Greek school – that it was a mass outbreak of food poisoning that caused 2 MILLION turks to die, but I think this is an outrageous slur on turkish cuisine and turkish chefs – who we all know are unsurpassed geniuses who saved humanity with their stuffed aubergines (eggplants) and I don't believe it. Mass suicide, definitely.

Jean Shawn

Stavros,

You're either a really nice person, or you're very naive, or you are politically inclined and motivated against Turkey. Anyone who knows a bit about history between the two nations and the recent developments between the two countries would laugh at your comments saying: "Greeks are much more tolerant of the Turks in their midst. Greeks would love to have good relations with their neighbor".

As the Greek ex-PM Costas Simitis nicely explained in his speech yesterday (please go ahead and read it in full), all Greece and the Greek-Cypriots want these days is to take full advantage of Turkey's EU membership talks. As the Greeks are fully aware, if Turkey backs-out or is forced-out of the EU membership talks, it will be very tough for Greece to achieve its ultimate goals of making the Aegean Sea a private Greek sea, and making the Greek-Cypriots the (politically and economically) dominant ethnicity on the island.

And to call Turkey a 'an expanionist, aggressive, repressive country'. What exactly is 'expanionist' about Turkey? I'd like to remind you that Greece was 'saved' from its own repressive and military dictatorship (that lead the coup against President of Cyprus Makarios II in 74) by Turkey's intervention on Cyprus in 1974.

But as with much of everything else, Greece and the Greek-Cypriots managed to rewrite history and showed themselves as the victims of the 1974 intervention. No one ever mentions the atrocities carried out by the Greeks against the Turkish Cypriots before the 1974 invasion. How did that happen Stavros?

If you're really about the unity of the two nations, why don't you write about the atrocities carried out by the Greeks and Greek-Cypriots against the Turks in your blog as a new post? Why not be impartial for a change? Why not post about the PKK terrorism support by the Greek government? I mean, you should know by now that several dozen PKK terrorist were caught by Greek passports on them right? Or the CIA reports that indicate that PKK receives training in CIA? Do I have to point you to the sources?

Let's be true to the truth for a change.

Regards,

Stavros

Jean, Welcome back.

I wish Greeks and Turks could just hold hands and sing Kumbaya, alas I fear that until Turks make long lasting and significant changes in their so-called democracy, that will be quite difficult. Let's review the record.
The Turkish minority in Greece has grown and prospered, it is represented in Parliament. The Greek minority in Turkey is almost non-existent. Case closed.

Cyprus, a island where 80% of the population is Greek, was invaded by Turkey which occupied almost half the island and populated the occupied lands with Turkish settlers from the Mainland. I'd say that has an "expansionist" ring to it.

With hundreds of GREEK islands in the Aegean, it is a "Greek lake." Greece does not need anyone's approval to make it so.

As for the dominant ethnicity in Cyprus it has always been the Greek majority. That majority lived peacefully side by side with the Turks until Great Britain and Turkey started meddling in Cypriot affairs.

Turkey has been a sponsor of State terrorism aginst Kurds, Greeks, Turks Greek and Turkish Cypriots. It sponsored the Turkish Resistance Organization in Cyprus which targeted Turks as well as Greeks. The Turkish government terrorized its own citizens of Greek origin in 1955 in Istanbul during the riots it engineered. Most recently the Turkish Army Chief of Land Forces, General Yasar Buyukanit, was implicated by a Turkish prosecutor in the direction of terrorist activities against the Kurdish minority.

Turkey's expansionism is not a figment of my imagination.

In fact, Turkey has always planned the invasion in Cyprus and the "taksim" (partition) of the island, prior to 1974. In 1939, soon after the annexation of Hatay, a predominantly Syrian city, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey stated: "The turn of Cyprus has not yet come".

In 1956 the Turkish-Cypriot leader F. Kutchuck submitted on a map taksim proposals dividing Cyprus to North and South. The 1974 Turkish invasion deviated from the 1956 plan only in minor details. Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash himself said: "Even if the Turkish-Cypriots did not exist, Turkey would not have left Cyprus to Greece."

As for the PKK, it is a direct result of Turkish policies designed to repress and disrupt the creation of a Kurdish national home. Its existence is unrelated to any Greek assistance it may have received in the past. It is a terrorist organization whose actions I abhor and unfortunately it has gotten support from leftist elements in Greece as well as Europe. Perhaps Turkey needs to reassess its approach to its indigenous people.

Lastly, Jean I surmise that you are neither Greek or Turkish, probably British or European. If that is the case, be careful what you wish for. When Europe accepts Turkey into the EU, as you and Costas Simitis so fervently pray for, then Europe will own Turkey's significant problems.

demonax

Excellent riposte, Stavros. You hit the nail right on the head.
I can never take the arguments of the Turks seriously.
To paraphrase Castoriadis, the Turks suffer from unbelievable self-mythologisation, presenting themselves as history's eternal victims when all the evidence points to the opposite; to the Turks being responsible for some of the most barbaric deeds known to mankind.
Dostoevsky refers to the Turks as 'savage beasts' and: 'This nation, steeped in lies and villainy, that denies the atrocities it has committed.'
The Russian said this in 1877. Since then, there's been the genocide of the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Pontic Greeks, the Greeks of Asia Minor, Constantinople, Imvros, Tenedos, the invasion and occupation of Cyprus and so on. Atrocity after atrocity, all of which the Turks steadfastly deny.
Whether the Turks accept their tendency to barbarism and show penitence and a willingness to become civilised is entirely up to them. I don't care. Let them continue with their absurd theories in which, by some extraordinary interpretation of history, they are the real victims. My main concern is that Greece continues to recognise what sort of creature it has on its doorstep and never lets its guard down.

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Searching for Ithaka

  • Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you're destined for. But don't hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you wouldn't have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. C. P. Cavafy

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