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Turkey’s growing aggression in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cyprus is extremely worrying. There are daily violations of Greek airspace suspended by the Greek Air Force, which increases the risk of a ‘hot’ episode, but also seriously damages the country’s defense spending in a period of crisis. It is therefore reasonable to be concerned with this extremely dangerous and aggravating situation for the economy.

Recently I have been exchanging views on Facebook about Turkey’s current growing aggression, both in the Aegean Sea and in Cyprus, as well as in Western Thrace.

Many of my friends wondered why I was engaging in an exchange of views, and even publicize the views of an individual of Turkish origin and nationality with a declared position against Greece as well as against United Nations, the European Union and institutions of the Western world in general.

It is obvious that I believe it is important, in a civilized environment, for people to communicate in order to understand each other’s point of view.

From this communication I believe that I have gained a wider understanding of the historical events and the way the Turkish side is thinking, without, of course, changing my view about the genocide that took place against the Greeks and other Christian populations, which lived centuries under the rules of Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, this discussion helped me understand how Turkey developed the psychology of the “despised Muslim” due to the behavior of the Western world.  I must also admit that these arguments and exchange of information helped me recognize propaganda on both sides.

Unfortunately, as many people would say, it was obvious or made common sense that the deeper objective of both Turkey and the rest of EU was to collaborate on a number of common economic interests without a real intention to achieve cultural, or financial integration or establish common geopolitical objectives.

This leaves Greece exposed to the turmoil and the desires of Turkey, which basically continues to behave like the state-despised nation of West that is interested in splitting Turkey, as it tried to do after World War I.

This, in combination to Turkey’s New Ottomanism and megalomaniatism, which makes Turkey believe that it has been infringed by international treaties and the law of the sea, while also the belief that international law, the international Hague tribunal, the UN and the European Union are institutions controlled by the West, hence Turkey is not bound by anything in terms of expanding its border’s in the Aegean but also towards the East makes Turkey a difficult country to negotiate with.

In essence Turkey’s position is opposing, US and its allies in Europe and NATO. This relationship was basically changed since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

This is the only way to explain the revival of hostility towards the West including Greece, which they regard as an instrument of the West.

It is clear that Turkey’s current strategy is to consider half of Aegean as its own to make Greece appear as an intruder with no rights, nor does it believe that recourse to international courts will resolve any conflict since these institutions, according to its view, are controlled by the Western powers.

As far as Western Thrace and the Muslim minority is concerned, it becomes obvious that they are the bastion for the next phase of annexation of the region to Turkey because they are … their «brothers» who are looking to protection from.. “Mother” Turkey. This is definitely a shift in behavior from previous visits of Turkish politicians in West Thrace who were addressing the Muslim minority as Greek Muslims of Turkish origine, citizens of EU.

In general, the strategic direction Turkey is taking today, irrespective of its internal political situation, poses real risks for Greece to find itself in the midst of a similar situation found during 1922 with the roles of the various states, America and Europe, corresponding to the (Entente Cordiale) powers of France and Great Britain of the First World War.

The conditions, of course, are quite different today, yet there are many similarities.

The economic crisis in Greece as well as the development of Turkey’s defense industry play a decisive role. Yet the most important thing is that the real “power game” is played elsewhere, and it is in the relationships and conflicting interests among Russia, EU and US where a solution will be found.

The balance between these forces will also determine the future of Greece because, unfortunately, Greece’s direct approach to Turkey looks like a Utopia, under current conditions.

Perhaps this is the reason why a Left Government in Greece adapted to roles that, traditionally, did not follow in the past.

This makes Greece’s decisions urgent and puts all issues political and financial at a second priority in relation to its efforts to solve the problem of the Greek-Turkish relations that are currently at the worst point ever.

So what is Greece’s position versus a stronger Turkey?

When Erdogan won the informal inner war with the deep Kemalist state and dominated the Turkish political scene, he began to unfold his own agenda. He worked towards not only to Islamization of Turkey but also promoted his plan for political autonomy from the West.

The Americans and Europeans began to realize that Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism was not what they thought. So when Turkey began to slip, the Westerners began to see it differently.

Typically, nothing has changed. Turkey remains a NATO member country and a candidate for EU membership. In reality, however, the way in which the Westerners see Turkey has changed. The European perspective of Turkey is pretentious and false. Neither does the EU want Turkey within its borders, but Turkey is no longer anxious about its membership.

Changing the way the Westerners see Turkey is changing the way they see Greece. This is especially true for the Americans, who have a more global look than the narrowly economical view of the EU. In fact, Greece is re-positioned on the geopolitical map. This is the fear of Turkey.

Maybe, if Turkey was friendlier with its demands towards Greece and Cyprus, would not push Greece in this way to rely on its traditional allies.

At this point it is interesting to include as an extract from the discussion that followed the publication of this article to appreciate the positioning of Turkish person who is also trying to defend the Turkish point of view:

Arguments exchanged between Sukan Gurkaynak and Nick Kouzos on the conflict

Sukan Gurkaynak Nick Kouzos  To improve Turkish Greek relations, you have to understand what really happened in history. I have written you the real population situation and losses based on Ottoman census statistics. The Turkish population losses in Greek occupied Anatolia 1 million were three times as high as Greek losses with 300000. Compare Greece in the 21st century cooking the books on financial data to grab other people’s money through the EU. In the 19th century they were cooking the books on demographical data to grab territories with Muslim majority populations, in Macedonia and Anatolia, after which they cooked the books to misrepresent their losses. Any dead is too much. But keep in mind, Turkish losses were people being murdered because Greek state policy was reducing Turkish population, Greek losses were people dying as the previous sufferers took revenge. Fact is, the Ottomans had as only major European State freedom of religion. Which is what Christianity survived in the Ottoman Empire whereas no pre-Christian religion survived in any Christian state in Europe including the previously Muslim majority territories invaded after 1800 in the Caucasus, Crimea and the Balkans- This was a concerted policy of eradicating the Muslims in Europe most of them the natives of the countries where they were living, who had preferred Islam when given the freedom to decide for themselves. So talking about Turkish invaders who were then pushed out is wrong. Turkey has around 50 to 150 different ethnic groups all of whom see themselves as Turks, the way Americans see themselves as Americans. Greece got her present territories as a beneficiary of this policy. In 1920 the effort to get more by erasing the Turks from the map by partitioning Anatolia between Greeks and Armenians failed. Treaties were signed defining the borders. This held until the cold war ended. After the end of the cold war we are seeing an effort to break up Turkey. Once more Greece thinks she can use the opportunity. It does not matter whether the left or the right runs the country. The Cyprus peace was made by Konstantin Karamanlis, the only real statesman Greece had in the second half of the 20th century, leader of the right in 1960 and destroyed by the left in 1963. The alternatives Greece has are respecting the status quo and living in peace or trying to expand their country by annexing the open seas which at this point belong to us all. Hiding behind the Western dominated UN, which we all remember did nothing to help the Bosnians Muslims of whom 250000 were murdered in the 1990ies with French and British troops assisting after which it authorized the invasion and murder of up to 4 Million Muslims in Iraq is for Turkey not convincing. The West dominates the World, that helps their fellow Christians the Greeks. Turkey is a country with a population of 85 Millions with an economy far more dynamic than Greece. The West might encourage Greece to a confrontation with Turkey to wear Turkey down, but they will not actually help them win a war. The West did try to get what it wanted, land for PKK-Kurds and Armenians and the Sea for the Greeks by using Islamists against the secularist elites. The secularist elites were in love with the status quo Lausanne treaty order, whereas Islamists dislike Lausanne, The hope was they would give up assets, now everyone can see, that went the wrong way. The West has a problem, they have created. This is comparable to the fiasco, Western colonial policies accomplished all over the Middle East. Greed without brains is a recipe for disaster.

Response from Nick Kouzos:

This sounds like a manifest of a Turkish-Eastern, one sided, biased, approach which is self-proven wrong by the international community, which is controlled by the West.

The West political and cultural status cannot be described as “Greed without brains and a recipe for disaster” Especially because it is exactly this attitude that brings disaster. West has values such as human rights, democratic values and many other principles in spite the fact that they are still in the process of evolution. Even the creation of EU and UN are still in a experimental stage but still they are centuries ahead of the way Turkey and many Eastern countries are thinking. Yes history is written by the winner but equally the feeling of the looser is not the basis for progressive thinking on the contrary is dominated by the complex of the looser, or other factors that they have to do with local traditions.

i.e. Turkey, which boycotts Eurovision from 2012, will not participate in its next event, considering that the international song contest is inappropriate for the young audience, according to TRT President Ibrahim Eren.

Greece has gained its independence fighting an Empire which behaved in a cruel way against humanity and Greeks.

The fact that you describe that Ottomans assimilated so many different national entities is a self-proven fallacy and an indication why Turkey is trying to prove that Ottomans inherited every civilization that ever existed in Asia Minor-Anatolia.

Turkey does not want to accept the link between Ancient and modern Greece. It is unacceptable for the Turk that this could ever happened so that a small nation could retain its identity national and cultural characteristics on the basis of which revived and claimed its independence fighting a mighty Ottoman empire.

You quote confrontations that happened in Europe against Muslims, for hundreds of years as a reason for Turkish rights to reprise.

I could quote historical crimes, since medieval times, against Greece.

The Venetians conquered parts of Greece and treated Greeks worst that Ottomans.

This does not give me the right to claim back land and sea in a revisionary strategy accusing the rest of the world for Greed. Is it Turkish Greed to claim Istanbul as Turkey and not Greek Byzantine.

All this has been settled with wars and nobody wants to bring it back.

This revisionary strategy that Turkey adopts so that wants to revive that the Greek islands are not Greek and Turkey needs to teach West nations to behave in a way that will allow an Ottoman revival and reprisal for all the bad Muslims suffered is very close to an Islamic threat.

It is only recently that Erdogan has announced that Turkey will do whatever it likes in the case of Eastern Mediterranean.

Erdogan, with his arrogance, said that Turkey will do what it wants and a new (Turkish) research vessel will be added to investigations into underground natural gas deposits in South Cyprus.

Obviously, Turkey is not in a position to fight together with Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and the United States.

Such a conflict would mean Turkey’s total end and its partition. This is something that personally I don’t want

The Turkish president has only to try to find out if the Eastern Mediterranean allies mean their words.

This arrogance is what can be called “Greed without brains and a recipe for disaster”.

As for Ottoman statics I have reasons to disclaim.

The Greek statistics is a totally different issue which I need a separate session to discuss with you. It is like the German war compensations or the loans made to Germany under the German occupation during the Second World War where Greece suffered 350.000 deaths.

Do you really believe that only 300.000 people died during the years 1914 -1922?

In any case the statistical numbers Ottomans are quoting are wrong, please remember that the total losses just for the Greeks from Pontos were 300.000.

Finally nobody is claiming that Aegean sea is not accessible to Turkey for commercial reasons, but the Greek islands is a different issue, and sending your air force is a different issue as well.

You are pushing Greece to make alliances with Egypt Israel and US. I am not so sure about the rest of Europeans.

Let us see which values and principles will survive in the next few years.

Unfortunately for Turkey the political system is not at its best. You may need west to help you return back to a democratic and stable state.

 

Sukan Gurkaynak Nick Kouzos At the time of Greek independence, the Philhellenes were expecting ancient Greece to be reborn when saved from the Turkish yoke. They were horrified by what the Greeks were actually doing and became convinced of a biological break between ancient and modern Greece. This is still the feeling in Germany. You would be offended if I wrote what one leading German daily wrote about that. Turks don’t care about ancient Greece. We are in love with Islamic civilization. If you are willing to read and discuss I will send you copies of one book about demography. The Ottoman statistics were an honest effort of the government to understand what they were governing. Greeks produced highly inflated figures f Greeks living in Anatolia and when they were not there propaganda claimed they had been killed. The West are the people who enslaved entire mankind in their colonies and destroyed ancient civilizations, including the Ottoman. We thought we were their allies in NATO but in 1963 when Greeks started butchering Turks on Cyprus they did not tell the Greeks to stop it. That was the beginning of the end of our confidence in the West. It is the West which has created the present state of affairs in Turkey and in no way are they ever going to help us. Greece would be foolish to trust an Egyptian-Israeli- US alliance against Turkey. Half a billion Muslims around Israel hate them they will not initiate hostilities against Turkey. Egypt is worthless as a military power and needs her army to keep political stability. The US will soon be involved in a confrontation with China and cannot add Turkey to her military challenges. I am no friend of the AKP regime in Turkey and will not defend their policies. The Ottoman Empire made no effort to assimilate anyone, that is why Greece has survived.

Response from Nick Kouzos:

I am really surprised that you quote German newspapers. If you care to to read what was happening in Turkey during the First World War regarding the financial situation you will observe that the Turkish economy was dominated by the Greek, Armenian, Juice people and companies mainly antagonizing German companies even in Banking, commerce and science, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers etc. The Turks were mainly occupied with military activity. Germany was training and supporting the Turkish army. Even the Government matters such as accounting was maintained by Greeks. Most of the middle class was Greek, In addition to the army Turks were mainly agricultural occupations. This is the reason why Kemal wanted to eliminate the middle class and create a new pure Turkish middle class by eliminating the old one. Especially in Banking the Germans replaced Greek Bankers. It is not strange to listen to Germans talking against Greeks. They were antagonizing Greeks in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans in general.

“It is worth emphasizing that 50% of the capital invested in industry of the Ottoman Empire, belonged to Greek minority. 

Also, out of the 18.063 trading companies operating in Turkey 46% belonged to Greeks, 23% to Armenians and 15%  to Muslims, 46% of the Banking sector belonged to Greeks. 

In high professional individuals, Greeks, were:  52% of doctors, 49% of the pharmacists, 52% of the Architects, 37% of engineers and 29% of solicitors.

Further, 528 from a total of 654 companies involved in wholesale trade belonged to Greeks.”

 

Even today I was finding that the real competition between investors in the Balkan countries was between German Greek and Turkish companies. I personally was working in Central Europe for Balkans for more than ten years in Banking and IT industry and I had the opportunity to experience this. So I am not surprised for the German statements. Germany has basically been benefited even by the Greek crisis. Germany is also the main supplier of arms (Submarines and other equipment.)

As for alliances, we are not seeking a war with Turkey, but what do you expect us to do, to give up and enjoy Turkish penetration and attacks as deep to the island of Naxos deep into Aegean sea close to the Greek mainland?

I don’t expect anything else from the Germans that have destroyed Greece during the First World War.

It is very ironic to say that Greece has survived due to Turks since you have destroyed the Byzantines and occupied the country for over 400 tears. You may be right we should be thankful for allowing us to survive as a nation! All this sounds ridiculous since there are only 1000 Greek left in Turkey while there are 150 000 Muslims in west Thrace. The numbers speak themselves.

I don’t expect Egypt or Israel to protect Greece. They will only protect their interest. Greece and Cyprus will defend itself. Greek Cypriots have never Butchered Turkish Cypriots, this is Turkish propaganda. But it has become obvious to me that there is no way that one can speak for justice and common sense. Unfortunately, this has been the problem for hundreds of years, it is strange if we are to find a solution now that Turkey has moved closer to a political crisis that is also leading to a financial crisis a fact that is making any negotiation even more difficult. This is why I spend so much time on this issue which is becoming of grave importance. You represent the biggest threat ever for the Greek nation

Also regarding your statistics they are a result of pure Propaganda.

Your numbers regarding massacres and Ottoman statistics are totally wrong My figure of 1 million killed is definitely smaller than the real number especially if you compare it with either the total population of Greeks at the time which was less than 4.5 million in the mainland and 2.5 m in Asia Minor As a proof I quote: The Black Book of the Pontian Central Council mentions on the genocide the following: «The massacred and in any case exterminated Greeks of the Pontus from 1914 to 1922 amount to the following numbers»: Amasia Region: 134.078, Rodopoli District: 17.479, Chaldeia Region – Kerasounta: 64,582, Neokesareia Region: 27,216, Region. Trebizond: 38,435, Cologne: 21,448: Total: 303,238 people ». Until the spring of 1924 the Pontians’ martyrdom included another 50,000 victims, the total number of Pontians who were assassinated by March 1924 was 353,000, more than 50% of the total population of the Pontians.
The genocide forced the Pontians to flee their homes and move to Greece, the USSR (where they were persecuted by the Stalinist regime during the interwar period), Iran, Syria, and elsewhere (Australia, USA).

The argument will never finish….

Nick Kouzos Markella I have been exchanging views with a number of Turks and I found that they are two types of Turks, the ones that love to approach Greeks especially those that their origin has been from Asia Minor and those that represent exactly the type of person Sukan is, I think it is important to understand the extend of their animosity «Keep your friends close and your enemies closer».

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Sukan Gurkaynak
Sukan Gurkaynak Nick Kouzos So I am your enemy? I try to help you understand the real issues and you make me your enemy. That you very much. But one thing is right, the genocide survivors from Rumelia know the Greeks much better than the Anatolians.
Nick Kouzos
Nick Kouzos At the moment Greece is being ruined financially mainly due to the arms race which we could never win. I keep trying to get my figures right regarding the numbers of innocent victims at a particular period 1914 to 1922 and you are rejecting the validity of my figures. I am trying to isolate each part of the history separately.You don;t seem to appreciate that 1 million innocent people killed consisted 25% of the total Greek population of the Greek Nation. This is unquestionable. It also concists 50% of the Greeks of Pontos. This is not a war. this is a genocide. The numbers are relevant. You are referring to Muslim losses in a wider area. I don;t reject all the numbers you are quoting. These numbers were created in a wider area, not caused by Greeks. This is a background story. The reflection of past historic conflicts cannot be curried to present and cannot be used to establish new sovereignty.Turkey behaves as a real enemy at the moment. It is not you personally that you are enemy but the strategies that Turkey is following and the tactics like imprisoning young Greek soldiers under false pretenses,this is a hostile act. In any case the most important part in our discussion is to recognize the mistakes each side has made.Greece has been the party that lost the war during 1922. We have signed a treaty as a looser. We have lost 25% of our total population, you cannot expect Greeks to stop remembering this loss. The issue of Turkey’s position versus West is a much wider geopolitical and cultural issue, we cannot be responsible for such world wide issues. .
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