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DO GREECE AND TURKEY SHARE A COMMON CULTURE …?

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This map show Asia Minor at the end of Ist. C.E.. Differing place names ending ‘os’  ‘ium’ etc show settlements dating from 1st millennium B.C.E. through to Roman settlement. Side on the south coast first settled by Aeolian colonists even to day retains its original name meaning….’pomegranate’

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nothing is personal…but when it comes to it everything is for takes or gives.

 

When  Turks visit Athens they are generally greeted with delight and a story. The two countries have so much in common: cuisine ,raki(ouzo),temperament….

They both  inhabit  the fabled shores of Hellenistic tradition….

If mainland Greece had possessed  better agricultural resources and the city states had not been at war so often …. there might have been less early  colonisation of  Asia Minor…..Aeolia Ionia and  the Pontus….regions which have donated such a wealth of  knowledge architecture and literature to the wider world.

Turkish tribes did not reach Asia Minor till 1000 years later inheriting a maritime history they did not understand.

The Selcuk tribes conquered  much of mainland Anatolia and developed a naval base at Alanya. 

The Ottomans…sons of Osman… eventually took Constantinople in 1453 and  over the next 100 years conquered much of mainland Greece.

 

Friendship is one thing but an abstract ideal is another. I remember  Rory Stewart describing the time he spent  as Governor in South Iraq. He became great friends with the local warlord whose mother   invited him for meals and even  laundered his clothes; however  one night Rory’s compound was suddenly without warning besieged. ….bonding can be wrenched apart by historical or political pressures.

 One cannot have ones cake and eat it’…. But to slice and share it we may  some day learn?

This is the aim of the many Greek and Turks  who have a common heritage in  their homeland of Cyprus.

I  visited Athens  some years back with  Turkish friends . We were wined and dined by a local restaurant owner ….with great enthusiasm, and shared jokes … I being English was left out of the conversation except for the unwelcome subject of the Parthenon!

However when it comes to considering the  ownership  of a single rock off the Turkish coast, only suitable as a bird perch, affability between these neighbours ends.

There are many Islands off the Turkish Coast traditionally inhabited by fishermen and shepherds where  tourism is today the main industry.

An outsider would have difficulty in understanding which country an island  belongs to ….each island has a Turkish and a Greek name and many have inhabitants of both countries.

The Dodecanese are in name  a group of 12 Islands  situated off the south western coast of Turkey of which there  are about 29 with official names in both languages and over  150 if one counts the often disputed rocks! Today they are better known in Greek…as below

:Kos,Symi,Rhodes.Kalymnos,Leros,Pserimos,Nisyros,Tilos,Karpathos,,Saria,Patmos,Imia,Levitha,Farmakonisi,Astipalaia,Leipsoi,HalkiKasos,Agathonisi,Arkoi, Sirna,Gyali,Armathia,Rho,Nimos, Zaforos,Kinaro,Alimia

We know that St Paul visited two of the islands and St. John the Evangelist  lived in exile on Patmos for many  years.  

These islands having Minoan culture in prehistoric times, came under Persian, Macedonian  then Roman rule as part of the Byzantine empire, ceded to the Ottomans and eventually came under Italian control at beginning of 20th century until the end of WW2 and were formally handed to Greece in 1947 though Turkey having followed a policy of  neutrality  during the war somewhat rightly considered the Islands to be within their waters…..and the Turkish President Erdogan  still claims them today.

Further north up the Aegean coast are the  larger islands of  Chios Samos and Lesbos  while  Bozcaada (Tenedos mentioned in the Iliad…) and Gokceada are  Turkish….. thank goodness! 

Islands are real hard work and always strategic!

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