‘‘The Greek-Turkish rapprochement and the Greek Orthodox minority of Istanbul: Was the rapprochement helpful for the minority?’’

of 7
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report

Books - Non-fiction


Views: 12 | Pages: 7

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Paper presented to Dr. James Ker-Lindsay for the course ''Greece and Southestern Europe''
  EU 440 Dr. J.Ker-LindsayGeorgios KokkolisLSE ID: 200931924  TERM PAPER  ‘‘The Greek-Turkish rapprochement and the Greek Orthodox minority of Istanbul: Wasthe rapprochement helpful for the minority?’’  In this essay I will present the rapprochement process between Turkey and Greece inrelation to the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.After presenting some important elements of the rapprochement process and the ongoing problems of the Greeks and the Patriarchate in Istanbul I will argue that indeed therapprochement process helped to the establishment of a new political environment whichin connection to Turkey’s negotiations with the EU for membership can help thecommunity and the Patriarchate to improve their state of being.  Historical Turning points Before analyzing the causes which led to the rebuilding of the Greco-Turkish relationssince 1999 and the problems of the minority, it is important to present the major historicalturning points in the external relations of the two states. Even though, in the popular mindset Greece and Turkey are often considered as rival states, this was not always thetruth. Since the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which followed the Greco-Turkish War of 1920-21 1  politicians from both sides of the Aegean could easily argue that there wasindeed a ‘Greek –Turkish friendship’. During the inter-war period, various agreements between the two countries (e.g. The Treaty of Athens ) put the basis for a cooperation andfriendship. However, the situation changed dramatically during the 1950’s when theCypriot struggle for independence from Britain took place. Greek-Cypriot demandedunion of Cyprus with Greece, an event which certainly affected Greco-Turkish relations,since Turkey as well, had major strategic and economic interests in Cyprus.When violence between the two communities started to took place in Cyprus, therelations of Greece and Turkey deteriorated significantly. As a result of what washappening in Cyprus, the Greek minority in Istanbul suffered a pogrom during 1955. Theyears which followed, the relations were becoming even worse. In 1974, Turkey’sinvasion and occupation of northern Cyprus brought the two countries into a short-climaxwar in Cyprus, which didn’t expanded to a full-scale war between Greece and Turkey.After the invasion, the relations were stabilized but during the 1980’s Turkey started toquestion the status quo in the Aegean Sea. This questioning process, involved thedelimitation of thecontinental shelf  between the two countries as well as the 1 The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) was signed in Lausanne, Switzerland between Greece and Turkey. Under this treaty, the two countries settled their borders in a final base. Along with the border settlement, other major problems ( émigrés, minorities, refugees etc) where settled as well, with most important theexchange of populations.  arrangement of territorial waters and airspace. The most important crisis was on 1987, thefamous ‘Sismik’  crisis when Turkey decided to send a military/geological ship in order tosearch for oil in the Aegean. The Greek reaction was immediate, and finally after  pressures from the UK and the USA, the Turks suspended any research in the Aegean.During the 1990’s two crises marked the relations of Greece and Turkey, and both in anegative sign. The first one, in 1996, the famous ‘  Imia/Kardak’  crisis for two smallislands in the Dodecanese, almost led to a conflict between the two countries. Thesecond, in 1999, was the arrest of Abdulah Ozalan, leader of the PKK, a paramilitaryKurdish organisation in Turkey, which is regarded as a terrorist group. Ozalan wasarrested in Kenya, as soon he left the Greek embassy in Nairobi. This was a proof for Ankara that Athens was helping the PKK. The Greco-Turkish relations since 1999 From the above mentioned, it is easy to understand, that in 1999, both Greece andTurkey didn’t have the most harmonious relations. However, the ‘twin’ catastrophicearthquakes in Istanbul and Athens, during August-September 1999, led to anunpredicted rapprochement between the two countries 2 .One reason for this quick humanitarian reaction of both countries during the earthquakes, can be traced from the participation of local groups, NGO’s and individuals in the effort to provide help to thevictims ( Karakatsoulis 2004: 301-302).Even though the Simitis government announced a multi-billion program in order toupgrade and re-organize the Greek army after the Imia crisis 3 , a series of domestic priorities […] have hinged on Greece’s entry into the economic and monetary union (EMU) of the EU, and any such financial departure from theconvergence process underway could jeopardize Greece’s prospects. 4 In a surprise move, during the 1999 European Council in Helsinki, the Greek governmentdecided to support the Turkish candidacy for the EU. As soon as Greece had secured thatCyprus would join the Union regardless of a final establishment for the island, primeminister Simitis changed the traditional Greek position which prevented Turkey fromobtaining the status of candidate country. His view was that Greece should supportTurkey’s European perspective in order to resolve the bilateral problems. Therefore, inthe conclusions of the Helsinki European Summit in December 1999, EU recognized that ‘‘Turkey is a candidate State destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteriaas applied to the other candidate States.’’    52 This period is often called the ‘Disaster Diplomacy’ or ‘Earthquake Diplomacy’. 3 Kurop Marcia Christoff, ‘‘Greece and Turkey: Can they Mend Fences?’’  Foreign Affairs, (January/February 1988):11. 4 Veremis, Thanos, ‘‘The Protracted Crisis’’ in Keridis D. and Triantaphyllou D. Greek-Turkish Relationsin the Era of Globalization, The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis – The Kokkalis Foundation, 2001. 5 Helsinki European Council 10-11.12.1999, Conclusions , Article 12.  Of course, it is of great importance to stress that this major swift in Greece’s foreign policy was influenced by the fact that Cyprus would join the EU despite the fact that nofinal settlement for the island has been agreed. Through that perspective, Greece would‘‘force’’ Turkey and the Turk-Cypriots to seek for a settlement for the island as soon as possible. Causes of the rapprochement  From this brief presentation of the Greco-Turkish relations since 1999, one could easilyargue about a ‘miracle’ in the bilateral relation of the two countries. However, can thisgood climate of understanding and cooperation only be attributed to the effect of thecatastrophic earthquakes which stroke both countries? James Ker-Lindsay stresses thatthe effect of the earthquakes was important but it wasn’t the whole story. Instead, ‘‘a sincere recognition by two governments that in the contemporary international environment a policy of cooperation is far more advantageous than continued confrontation.’’  (Lindsay, 2000: 216)Certainly major causes in the rapprochement process were George Papandreou and IsmailCem themselves. The way they handled the Kossovo case and their common decision tofollow a channel of direct communication focusing on ‘soft-politics’ (such as tourism,environment etc) helped a lot to create a friendly environment for the negotiations to proceed. Consequences of the rapprochement  Whether or not the rapprochement process actually helped the two countries to movecloser to a final settlement of the bilateral problems has been argued a lot. The fact thatup to now we have no final agreement between the two countries in any of the problemsis suggested by many as an indicator that the whole rapprochement process was just a‘media’ process. However such a view can only be understood under the prism of highexpectations which were made that actually the rapprochement process would bring anew ‘Franco-German axis’ in Southeastern Europe. My suggestion is that if therapprochement process had not begun, despite the problems and the various tensions between Greece and Turkey any such an expectation would be fictitious. Since 1999 thetwo countries made important steps in order to begin in near future a negotiation processover all the issues they want to solve. In Cyprus the two communities were close toachieve a peace settlement with the Annan plan in 2006. Even though the plan was notadopted, the fact that in the Northern Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriots voted for the plan andRaouf Dektas was moved out of office certainly boosted up the negotiation process.Despite the Greek-Cypriot refusal to the Annan plan today we have an open negotiation between the two communities which up to now seems to be fruitful.  The Greek minority in Istanbul and the problems Even thought the Greek Orthodox minority of Istanbul received a series of guaranteesfrom the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, several events since the 1930’s (mostly linked toCyprus) led to the diminishing of the community from almost 140,000 people in 1923 toless than 2,000-3,000 today. Turkey, with a series of laws took measures against thecommunity by preventing Greeks from exercising specific trades and professions 6 . Themost important measures were the 1932 parliamentary law and the 1942 Whealthy Levy 7 (Varlik Vergisi). However, it is of no doubt that the most catastrophic moments in theminority’s modern history were the Pogrom in September 1955 and the 1964-65deportation of the Greek citizens of Istanbul. After these events the minority wasshrunken to less than 3,000 today. It is also important to stress that several measureswere token in Imvros and Tenedos as well, which resulted to the actual destruction of theGreek communities which were predominant in these islands in 1923 8 . As for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is supposed to be the ‘spiritual guide’ of theGreek Orthodox community of Istanbul under the Lausanne Treaty, three are the major  problems: the first one is the Holy Theological School in Halki (Heybeliada) which wasshut down in 1971 and since then the Patriarchate calls for its re-opening. The actual problem which arises is that the Theological School is vital for the Patriarchate to exist,since there it can trains its clergy. Furthermore, since the Turkish law demands that thePatriarch has to be Turkish citizen by birth it can be assumed that with the Halki Schoolclosed it is impossible for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to train its prospective Patriarchs.The second major problem is found in Turkey’s denial of a legal personality for theEcumenical Patriarchate. The imminent effect of this denial is that actually thePatriarchate has no ownership rights.   Furthermore,   according to a 1974 Turkish SupremeCourt of Appeals (Yargitay) decision, the Turkish state does not recognize propertieswhich have been donated after 1936 to religious foundations and whose constitutivedocument does not explicitly mention the right to acquire property.   Also, many Greek Orthodox cemeteries are being ruled by the Turkish local authorities in violation of theLausanne Treaty (Article 42) and pursuant to Article 160 of the Law on LocalGovernment.Finally, the last problem which the Ecumenical Patriarchate faces is the non-recognitionof the Patriarchates ecumenical nature by the Turkish authorities. Turkey suggests thatthe Patriarchate in Istanbul serves only the Greeks of Turkey and terms such as 6 Speros Vryonis, Jr. The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6–7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul  , New York: 2005 7 Holland, Robert. "The Struggle for Mastery, 4 October 1955–9 March 1956,"  Britain and the Revolt inCyprus, 1954–59 , Oxford:Clarendon Press,1998, pp. 75–77. 8 Imvros and Tenedos are located next to the Dardanelles (Canakalle). Both of the islands were inhabited byGreek people who numbered 8,000 and 5,000 respectively. The islands were captured by the Greek navyduring the First Balkan War in 1913 and after 12 years of Greek administration were given to Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne (article 14) because of their strategic importance. Even thought the Greeks of theseislands were protected under the Treaty and had a series of rights and privileges, Turkish authoritiesviolated the Treaty by establishing in Imvros an open jail and by expropriating 95% of the arable landwhich belonged to the Greeks. Today Greeks in Imvros are 400 people and in Tenedos almost 200.  ecumenical  are threatening the sovereignty and the laicité of the Turkish state. However the term ecumenical is not related to politics. It is a clear spiritual and religious titlewhich was given to the Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul) during the 6 centuryA.D. The peculiarity of the Turkish refusal is that the ecumenical nature of thePatriarchate is been recognized worldwide and the bishop whom they regard as a local isrecognized as the spiritual leader of more than 300,000,000 Orthodox Christians aroundthe world. In terms of operation, the refusal of its ecumenicity prevents the Patriarchatefrom accepting deacons from outside of Turkey who can permanently work and settlethemselves in Turkey. Consequences from the rapprochement for the minority in Istanbul  As we have seen above, the rapprochement process between the two countries helped alot to the creation of a more ‘constructive’ environment in order to reach a finalsettlement in the bilateral problems.Regarding the ‘stricto sensu’  minority problems we can see that things do not seem tohave been better for the Greek minority in Istanbul. The problems are still there, and thefact that Turkey treats the Greek minority in Istanbul under a mindset of reciprocity of the Greek state towards the Muslim minority in Greece leads is heavily paradoxical. Thereason I am suggesting this is that minority members in Istanbul are Turkish citizens of Greek srcin and therefore Turkey shouldn’t demand ‘exchanges’ from Greece and viceversa. By doing so, both countries are alienating the minorities and actually they leadthem to seek assistance from outside, which of course perplexes even more the bilateralrelations of these countries. Furthermore, in the case of Turkey I still insist that itsattitude towards the minority and especially the Ecumenical Patriarchate is totally insane.The very reason I am suggesting this, is that actually it is for Turkey’s national intereststo promote the Ecumenical Patriarchate. One the one hand this would make it easier todiminish its ‘Greek’ character in favor of its ‘ecumenicity’ and on the other hand Turkeywould receive credentials as an example of a muslim country which respects minoritiesand is also the base of an international institution. The latter certainly would improveTurkeys profile as an EU candidate member state.During December 2009 the Turkish Ministry of Education announced that there is anongoing process for the re-opening of the Greek Orthodox Theological School in Halki 9 ,an event which certainly is a positive one. However, I suggest that it was not therapprochement process which helps the Patriarchate to improve its situation rather thanthe charismatic personality of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. His internationalmagnitude as well as his efforts against climate change ( The so called ‘Green’ Patriarch) 9 The Holy Theological School of Halki was closed in 1971 by the Turkish authorities according to a lawwhich forbids private universities from functioning. Since 1998 the issue took an international aspect sincethe US Congress passed resolutions which supported the re-opening of the School. The Theological Schoolis considered of vital importance for the continuation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to exist, since it is theonly place where future Patriarchs can be trained. For more information about the issue check http://www.patriarchate.org/patriarchate/monasteries-churches/halki.Also visit mfa.gr and mfa.gov.tr tosee the respective approaches for the issue from both countries.
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!