Βy Leonidas Koumakis, Member of IHA
Translated by Ellene Phufas, Member of IHA
Let us take things in order:
On Sunday, January 17, 2021, during the first Virtual Cutting of the Saint Basil’s Bread of the Imbrian Association, the Foreign Minister of Greece delivered his greetings and stressed that “Turkey must finally understand that the Greek Minority in Imbros, Tenedos and Constantinople does not represent an enemy for the rest of Turkish society” emphasizing that “Turkey should fully respect the rights of the Greek minority, converging with international and European standards of respect for human and minority rights”.
Absolutely correct and temperate comments if one takes into account the Golgotha of suffering that the Greeks of Constantinople, Imbros and Tenedos have endured at the hands of violent and inhuman tactics of official Turkey, starting from the very day after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne and leading up to the unprecedented reduction of the Greek population from about 120,000 in 1923, to just a few thousand remaining souls.
Just two days later on January 19, 2021 Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, issued a statement – a monument to hypocrisy and misinformation – which shamelessly tries to deceive every bona fide third party, offending the intelligence of those who survived and are aware firsthand of the so- called “cooperation” of official Turkey with its “Greek Orthodox citizens” whom it condemned to a callous and methodical, economic, religious and physical annihilation.
Therefore, let us examine what exactly Mr. Aksoy says and what he forgets to say in order to distort the truth and to nourish his illiterate or uneducated electoral clientele with gross propaganda, willing to believe all the lies systematically spread by the fanatic Islamists and fascists who suffocatingly dominate the Turkish power structure.
So, the honorable Mr. Aksoy tells us:
“It is comically tragic that the Foreign Minister of a country, which has been convicted three times by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as a result of the political assimilation and repression implemented against the ‘Turkish Minority of Western Thrace’ in Greece criticizes our country regarding its minorities. In recent years, many constructive steps have been taken to solve the problems of the Greek Orthodox Minority in coordination with our Greek Orthodox citizens. Regarding the solution of the problems of the “Turkish Minority of Western Thrace” in Greece, which is a member of the EU and considers itself the cradle of democracy, there is no progress, but instead there is regression. Greece persistently violates the rights of the “Turkish Minority of Western Thrace”, whose rights derive from the Treaty of Lausanne and multilateral agreements. It continues to not implement the condemnatory judgements taken by European Council of Human Rights regarding the denial of the “Turkish identity” of the minority. Recent rulings aimed at the Islamic Madrassas of “Western” Thrace show that in Greece, not only can the expression “Turkish” be no longer tolerated, but also the expression “Minority”.
What the most honorable Mr. Aksoy pretends to forget:
First, as the saying goes – people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. When you carry on your back about two hundred decisions of the ECHR which you provocatively ignore, with what audacity do you invoke three decisions of the same court against Greece that are irrelevant to the issue you are talking about? How many decisions of the ECHR have asked Turkey to release Selahattin Demirtas from the prisons where he has been held without charges for years? How many dozens of human rights decisions are simply ignored and thrown in the trash by the same people who hypocritically show immense “sensitivity” to the same decisions when it comes to third parties?
Second, during the negotiations for the signing of the Lausanne Treaty did not Turkey itself impose the condition that the Muslims who remained in Greece should not be described as “Turks“, out of fear of the tens of millions of Kurds still living in Turkey? Did not Turkey itself impose the religious characterization and not the ethnic one? Why is Mr. Askoy now shedding crocodile tears with such fury, for the alleged “persistent violation” of the Treaty of Lausanne or the rights of Greek citizens, whose belief is Muslim?
Third, the decisions of the ECHR, which he brazenly invokes, concern individual right to self-determination and, of course, not group determination. And one wonders: Of so many highly-paid agents of fanatical Islamists and gray wolves in Greek Thrace, only three were found to be ” vindicated” by the ECHR?
Fourth, Mr. Aksoy obviously considers that “constructive” steps of Turkey towards “its Greek citizens” refer to among many more atrocities the suppression of the Theological School of Halki for decades, the systematic conversion of Byzantine churches into mosques, culminating in the “conquest” of the world’s cultural heritage of the Holy Cathedral of Saint Sophia, the systematic seizure of untold real estate of the Greeks of Turkey, the imminent collapse of the Greek orphanage of the Prince Island which is considered the largest wooden building in Europe, the stubborn denial of legal status in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which constitutes the religious link of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world, established in the City of Constantine for seventeen whole centuries and so on.
Fifth, that “assimilation and repression” does not apply to Greek Muslim citizens in Greek Thrace, whose numbers are multiplyingunder a government which insures religious and political freedom. In contrast, “assimilation and repression” has been and continues to be systematically applied by Turkey to the Greek people of Constantinople, Imbros and Tenedos, with the result that out of a population of 120,000 people who lived there during the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, today there remain only a few thousand souls while Greek Muslim citizens of Greek Thrace, increased from 80,000 in 1923 to more than 120,000 – certainly not from the so-called “oppression” dreamed up by the Turkish propaganda regime. In addition, Mr. Aksoy fails to recall the reality of policies of “assimilation and repression” implemented by the Turkish government apparatus such as the ban on dozens of professions by Greeks in Istanbul in 1932, the recruitment in the forced labor battalions of all Greek, Armenian and the Jewish minority males 18-45 years old in 1941, the selective and devastating property tax imposed only on Christians (Varlik) in 1942, the murderous pogrom against the Greeks of Constantinople in 1955, the inhuman deportations on a mass scale in 1964 and so much more. (Editor: Some of the above are mentioned in the 20-minute documentary of the historical Association of Constantinople – click here).
The most honorable Mr. Aksoy also tells us:
“Turkey has opened schools in Imbros for only four students in response to the demands of the Greek Orthodox citizens, while Greece continues to close minority schools in “Western Thrace”. The reduction of the number of minority schools in Western Thrace from 231 to 115 from Greece in the last 25 years is the most tangible indicator of the two countries’ perspective towards minorities. The Greek Foreign Minister must look in the mirror before making such grave statements and must first take responsibility for these matters internally.”
What the most honorable Mr. Aksoy deliberately fails to mention:
First, that 92% of the population of Imbros and Tenedos were Greek Christians, when they surrendered to Turkey in the context of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, with many specific obligations on the part of Turkey. In order to impose “assimilation and repression” of the Greek population, in 1965 the Turkish government established on Imbros an open agricultural prison for Turkish mainland violent convicts who killed, raped, and robbed at will, with the result that the frightened Greek population of the islands fled in disorder; their farming land was expropriated for the construction of the prison and between 1960 and 1990 about 200 churches and chapels were reportedly destroyed.
Second, the four Greek students of Imbros and Tenedos and their families correspond (together with the elderly) to only 1% of the total population of the two long-suffering Greek islands. This is the most crystal-clear indicator of the two countries’ perspectives towards their minorities and not the juggling of facts about a “reduction” of 231 schools of Greek Muslim citizens to 115. But in fact, how many students are enrolled in the 115 “minority schools” according to Turkish propaganda? Certainly, several thousand students and not four Greek students left in Imbros and Tenedos as well as a few dozen students in Istanbul!
C O N C L U S I O N S: The most blatant accusations to foreign countries, about various “rights” that are contemptuously violated within Turkey itself, constitutes a permanent Turkish foreign policy strategy spanning whole decades applied by all its variants of the pan Turkish proponents*.
So, if today one has to “look in the mirror” at oneself, this is neither the Greek Foreign Minister, nor of course Greece.
It is Turkey, the most honorable Mr. Aksoy and all the pan-Turkists who represent the most glaring example of the Greek proverb: The thief shouts to frighten the homeowner or the pot calling the kettle black!
* Pan-Turkism and Turkish policy towards Greece and Hellenism are described in the timeless, autobiographical book The Miracle – A True Story which is available completely free of charge in both the 5th Greek edition (2020) and the 3rd English edition (2019) from the Library of International Hellenic Association. The free electronic edition of 2020 includes updated bibliography of hundreds of sources in Greek, English, French and Turkish books.
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