916) The Story Of Those Who Stayed: Lessons From Articles 1 And 2 Of The 1923 Convention

Baskin Oran


Historical context of the 1923 exchange of populations

The compulsory exchange of populations of 1923 between Greece and Turkey is a component part of the Lausanne Peace Conference, which took place at the end of the Turkish War of Independence (1919-22). That war concluded when the armies of the Greek occupation of Anatolia supported by the Allies at the end of the First World War were defeated in August 1922 by the Turks. The Convention and Protocol on the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations (hereinafter ‘the Convention’) is one of eighteen instruments created at the Lausanne Conference on Near Eastern Questions, 1922-23. Sixteen of these instruments, including the Lausanne Peace Treaty itself, were signed at the end of the Conference on 23 July 1923. The remaining two, the Convention and the Turkish-Greek Agreement on the Extradition of Civil Hostages and on the Exchange of War Prisoners, were signed on 30 January 1923, about two and a half months after the start of the Conference and about six months earlier than the other sixteen. The subject matter of these two instruments ‘had nothing to do with the Peace Treaty’ but had to be ‘dealt with at the earliest possible time’.1 The Convention was thus a prerequisite for the Peace Treaty, as shown by its early signature.

From the outset, I would like to make a note on the terminology I use for the respective minorities exempted from the exchange by Article 2 of the Convention. For those exempted in Istanbul, Article 2a used the term ‘Greeks’ (see Alexandris, this volume). Later, the inhabitants of the islands Gökçeada and Bozcaada were also included. In its place, I prefer to use the term Rums, which denotes the almost-exclusively Orthodox population of Byzantine descent of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. The Rums were usually bilingual, but their mother tongue was Greek. Since the 1820s, ‘Rum’ has been used in Turkish for any Hellene living outside Greece and who is not a citizen of that country. Not only is this term more accurate, but, coming from Romios (pl. Romioi), meaning ‘from [eastern] Rome’, it also reflects the Rums’ own view of themselves. Although the Rums see Greece as their kin-state, they believe that they can trace their lineage directly back to Romano-Byzantine Constantinople (Alexandris 1983: 17). Preference for Rum instead of Rum Orthodox is because, notwithstanding the small number of Catholic and Protestant Rums, Rum has always been synonymous with Rum Orthodox.

Article 2b of the Convention used the term ‘Moslems’, not ‘Turks’, for the minority in Western Thrace, probably for the following two reasons. Firstly, at the time of the exchange, religion and confession counted far more than ethnicity; and secondly, just as Turkey wanted all the Muslims of Western Thrace to remain - not just those of Turkish ethnicity – it is probable that the Allies and Greece wanted all the Muslims to be subject to the exchange (hence this expression in Article 1). However, I prefer to use the term ‘Muslim-Turks’. Firstly, in the Balkans especially, Turk and Turkish have always been, and to a large extent still are, synonymous with Muslim, probably because Turks were the founders and the main element of the Ottoman Empire and a fortiori of its millet system, which considered all Muslims as one single community.2 Secondly, and more importantly, this preference is made because this profoundly religious minority of 110,000 - composed of approximately 70,000 Muslims of Turkish ethnic origin, 35,000 Pomaks (slavophone Muslims) and 5,000 Muslims of Romany ethnic origin - now feels very strongly about denoting itself as Turkish and fully considers Turkey its kin-state (cf. note 24).

The exchange, and especially its compulsory nature, is of particular importance in the 1990s. However, in order to learn anything from this experience that might contribute to today’s minority, exchange and refugees debates, the following question must first be resolved: who wanted the exchange, who wanted it to be compulsory, and why?

The exchange and its compulsory nature were proposed by the Allies, in particular England.3 Lord Curzon thought the exchange should be compulsory for the following reasons: that it would otherwise take months to implement the Convention; that the exchanged Turks should be able to start tilling Thrace as soon as possible; that it would help Greece to make place for the influx of refugees; and that it would also make it easier to compensate the exchanged people for the property they would be leaving behind (1 December 1922, Meray, Lausanne: 123). His real reason, however, was that the Allies thought a radical solution to the question of minorities would ease their task of guaranteeing the stability of the new international order, for the very fact that the issue of minorities in Europe, as explained also by de Azcarate, was one of the two main causes of the First World War (1969: 9).

The second party that desired the exchange was Greece, above all because of the pressing need for space to settle the large number of Asia Minor refugees who fled Turkey along with the withdrawing Greek armies - approximately one million people, or a quarter of Greece’s population at the time. As for the compulsory nature of the exchange, the Greek Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos, declared that it should be voluntary, but added that he was prepared to discuss the issue. Of much greater importance to Venizelos, though, was the exclusion from the compulsory exchange of the Rum population of Istanbul (about 110,000 Rums in Istanbul were finally designated as non-exchangeable). The reason he gave was that the Rum population of Istanbul would so greatly augment the number of refugees coming to Greece that Greece would feel obliged to ask the U.S.A. to increase her emigration quota. Of course, Venizelos had another, probably more important, reason for this. He was the champion of Greek irredentism, known as the Megali Idea, ‘the Great Idea’, and had long been fuelling Greek public opinion with the idea that ‘Ionia’ (western Turkey) would become part of Greece. Thus it would be very difficult to have the public accept the exchange of Istanbul Rums because, Istanbul being ‘the Second Rome’ and the seat of the Holy Phanar Rum Orthodox Patriarchate, this would unequivocally mean the end of the Megali Idea.4 In addition, the Patriarchate would most probably have had to move to Mount Athos in Greece, and this would inevitably have caused great friction between it and its rival institution, the autocephalous Church of Greece.

The exclusion from the exchange of a substantial number of Muslim-Turks just within the Greek border was a price Venizelos had to pay to ensure that the Istanbul Rums and the Patriarchate crucially stayed where they were in Istanbul.

The third party that desired - and very much so - a compulsory exchange was Turkey.5 Ismet Pasha, head of the Turkish delegation at Lausanne, said that in the event of such an exchange, all the Rums of Turkey should be included (1 December 1922, Meray, Lausanne: 121) even though he thought the Muslim-Turks of Western Thrace should be excluded. Ismet Pasha wanted all the Rums expelled from Turkey for numerous reasons.

Firstly, Christian minorities had always been the main pretext on which the Great Powers interfered in the domestic affairs of the Ottoman Empire. Secondly, the Peace Treaty towards which the parties were working was to include a section titled Protection of Minorities. Ridding Turkey of as many Rums as possible (the most significant non-Muslim minority) would minimise the potential for recourse being sought to these rights. Thirdly, the way the Rum minority and the Patriarchate had collaborated with the occupying Greek armies was still in the forefront of the Kemalists’ minds: they were eager to destroy Greek irredentism once and for all while they had the opportunity. Furthermore, there was also an unarticulated agenda behind the Turkish desire for a complete and compulsory exchange. Like many of the states of eastern Europe and the Balkans at the time, Turkey too was ready to embark on a full-scale nation-building process, and her non-Muslim minorities were considered a real stumbling block to this endeavour. The reason Ismet Pasha wanted Western Thrace to be excluded from the exchange was probably twofold. On the one hand, the Turkish delegation drew attention to the country’s National Pact,6 stressing that the pact’s third point asked for a plebiscite in this region where the Turks were in a majority. On the other hand, with the exclusion of the Istanbul Rums from the exchange now inevitable, it seemed that Turkey, which deplored the idea of having to keep them, was seeking to create a symmetry in the region by counter-balancing them with the Muslim-Turks of Western Thrace.7 This symmetry was to find its expression in the second article of the Exchange Convention in which provision was made for the two minorities to be excluded from the compulsory exchange.

Legal and socio-political aspects and consequences of the exchange
Article 1 of the Convention specified a compulsory exchange. It defined those who must leave: from Turkey, Turkish nationals of Greek Orthodox religion;8 and from Greece, Greek nationals of Muslim religion. As a consequence, 355,635 Muslim-Turks were expelled from Greece for Turkey, and 189,916 Rum Orthodox were expelled from Turkey for Greece (Macartney 1934: 446). However, as mentioned above, Greece actually had to receive a total of 1.2 million expellees because she had already received some one million refugees who had fled Turkey on the defeat of the Greek armies in August 1922, what the Greeks refer to as the Mikrasiatiki Katastrofi, the ‘Asia Minor Catastrophe’9

Article 2 of the Convention set the exception. It defined those who would be excluded from the exchange, the so-called établis These were, in Turkey, Rums (in the Convention ‘Greeks’) settled in the Istanbul10 prefecture prior to 30 October 1918, and in Greece, the Muslim-Turkish (in the Convention ‘Moslem’) inhabitants of Western Thrace. As a consequence of Article 2, around 130,000 Muslim-Turks stayed in Western Thrace, and about the same number of Rums in Istanbul.

Under the terms of the Lausanne Peace Treaty (concluded six months later in July 1923) two islands at the mouth of the Dardanelles - Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) - were ceded to Turkey for security reasons. Article 14, paragraph 2 of the Peace Treaty excluded from the exchange the populations of these two islands (substantially composed of Rums). In 1920, about nine thousand Rums were living on Gökçeada and Bozcaada (Alexandris 1980: 27).

Article 1 created emigrants. These people had to leave practically with what they could carry. In their respective kin-states they were to receive property equivalent to what they had left behind. These emigrants suffered greatly for a number of reasons. Firstly, during the implementation of the Convention, a large number of unforeseen problems emerged that were not solved until almost eight years later. At the root of most of these was the disagreement between Greece and Turkey regarding the immovable property left behind by expellees. These people had to leave everything behind - their homeland, their neighbours and, indeed, their way of life. Some of them did not even understand the language of their new country,11 while for a considerable length of time both groups were considered strangers by their new compatriots.12 The numerous problems inevitably raised by such a radical exchange (see below) continued to poison Turco-Greek relations right up until 1930. In that year the Ankara Convention conclusively settled problems concerning the property rights of the exchangeables. Owing to the statesmanship of the countries’ two leaders, Venizelos and Atatürk, relations between the two states normalised (and even became friendly) after this date.

Article 2 created national minorities, who were allowed to stay. They were given minority rights in the Peace Treaty as formulated in the section titled Protection of Minorities. Articles 37–44 of this section (which were based on the Polish Minorities Treaty of 1919) concerned, inter alia, Turkey’s non-Muslim minority, the Rums, while Article 45 set down a principle of reciprocity that would in turn govern Greece’s behaviour towards its Muslim minority.13 However, most of these rights existed only on paper. As a consequence, the experience of those who were allowed to stay proved to be even more difficult than that of those who had to leave. Although those who had to leave under Article 1 suffered a great deal, their problems were more or less limited to one generation. These problems diminished considerably, and even faded away altogether as the 1923 expellees adapted to their respective new countries (but see Koker, Koufopoulou, Stelaku, this volume, and Hirschon 1998 [1989]: ch.3).

It is for a number of reasons that ultimately the experience of those who were allowed to stay has proved to be more difficult. Firstly, for seventy-odd years the minorities have never been considered by their host-states as their own people and they have always been forced to live a separate life, sometimes subjected to harassment. Secondly, the intensity of the negative attitude shared by both Turkey and Greece towards their minorities did not diminish with the passing of time. On the contrary, the respective lives of the two établis communities were made even more difficult after the 1960s, when another issue, the Cyprus question, came to poison Greco-Turkish relations further. Thirdly, and of particular relevance, the two établis communities were forced half a century later to share the fate of those who had to leave in 1923: they had to emigrate to their respective kin-states, some of them even becoming refugees and stateless persons.

The numbers speak for themselves. Typical of city-dwellers, the Rum minority of Istanbul has a very low rate of population growth and has practically withered away, diminishing from some 110,000 people in 1923 to around 2,500 today. The Rum population of Gökçeada and Bozcaada has fallen approximately from 9,000 to 500 over the same period (Witman 1992a: 29). The size of the Muslim-Turkish minority in Western Thrace, the rural nature of which is reflected in a very high rate of population growth, is now smaller than the 120,000 it was in 1923. This is because an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 of them have left Greece since 1923.14 In this respect, the story of those who were allowed to stay has a lot more to teach us than the story of those who had to leave. In examining this issue I shall analyse the predicament of the two respective minorities both in the context of Greco-Turkish relations and with respect to their rights as laid down in the 1923 Convention and Peace Treaty, in the 1930 Ankara Convention and in other instruments.

The two minorities and Greek-Turkish relations

For centuries the issue of respective minorities influenced relations between what are now present-day Turkey and Greece. However, that causal link was reversed in 1923: since then it has been the relations between the two countries that have been the determining influence on the lives of the two minorities, and with incomparably greater effect. This new period can be subdivided into three: 1923 to 1930, 1930 to 1954, and 1955 onwards.

1923-1930 Initial violations: emptying strategic territories of their établis
Violations started as soon as the Convention began to be implemented. Firstly, both Turkey and Greece made efforts to dislodge the établis who constituted a majority on certain strategic territories. Greece dislodged them from its Turkish border (Evros) immediately, and Turkey dislodged them from the islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada a few years later.

In Greece, as the Evros province was emptied of Muslim-Turks and as the incoming Rums were settled in Western Thrace, the Muslim-Turks, who formed the majority there in 1922 (129,120 Muslims compared with 33,910 Greeks) and who held 84 percent of the land, became a numerical minority (23 November 1922, Minutes no.3, Meray, Lausanne: 41f., 54, 61). This situation only came about because the Rum refugees from Eastern Thrace, crossing the Maritza river in the autumn of 1922, were able freely to seize the property and livestock of the Western Thrace établis; the security forces did not stop them. In the end, Muslim-Turks had to abandon everything and take refuge in Turkey (Alexandris 1983: 120-21).15 One year later (1924) the number of Greeks in the area had risen to 189,000 (Pallis 1925: 327).

Also in Greece, Law No. 2345/1920 was never implemented. The law was promulgated in order to meet the requirement of the 1913 Athens Treaty (see note 13) with regard to the election of the Mufti and Head-Mufti by the Muslim-Turkish community. As a consequence of its non-implementation, the community was never able to elect its religious leaders. This situation has still not been resolved today (but see Alexandris, this volume).

In Turkey, the special self-administration privileges given to the inhabitants of Gökçeada and Bozcaada under Article 14 of the Peace Treaty were never honoured. Even the Rums’ right to education in their mother tongue was denied in 1927 (Law No.1151).16

1930-1954 The rapprochement period
It can be argued that for two decades Greece and Turkey had friendly relations. The établis question and other bilateral problems were settled in 1930 through the Ankara Convention. Common fears concerning the Italian ‘Mare Nostrum’ policy of Mussolini in the 1930s and the Stalinist policy of the Soviets in the 1940s and early 1950s acted to promote friendly relations between Greece and Turkey. This atmosphere of rapprochement was also reflected in the treatment of the two établis communities, and it served in some measure to alleviate their problems. Under the Culture Agreement of 1951, an exchange of teachers for minority schools in both countries was foreseen and there was an undertaking to purify school textbooks of ‘mutual defamation concerning both nations’ moral values’. In Greece, the minority schools were officially called Turkish instead of Muslim for the first time in 1954 (the ‘Papagos law’, Law No. 3065/1954). In Turkey, the Rum minority’s ‘golden age’ started with the arrival in 1930 of many Greek citizens (probably those who were born in Istanbul and left in 1922) coming to live and work in Turkey with work and residence permits.17 The two countries became the closest partners in the Balkans. In the early 1950s, Greek started to be taught again on Gökçeada and Bozcaada. Under American influence bilateral relations prospered, which also allowed a revival of the Patriarchate.

On the other hand, the core of the problems for the respective établis communities remained untouched. In Greece, the ‘forbidden zone’ was declared in 1953 as a measure against communist infiltration from Bulgaria. Encompassing one-eighth of Western Thrace, it was in fact used, together with the military restricted zone running parallel with it in the south, to keep the Pomaks in the northern mountains separate from the Muslim-Turks in the south.18 This practice, by which a special pass was required to enter the zone - issued only to the Pomaks domiciled there - was abandoned in November 1995. In addition, complaints about land problems began in May 1952, as recorded in various subsequent news items in Trakya (e.g., 14 July 1954, in Oran 1991: 237).

In Turkey, it was the heyday of Turkish secular nationalism. Religious institutions and their clerics were being intimidated with Turkist slogans and measures such as the obligation to sing the call to prayer – the ezan - in Turkish instead of Arabic. This mood also affected the Rum community, particularly in the form of the pressure exerted by the Turkish Orthodox movement of Papa Eftim, a Karamanli Rum Orthodox priest. This movement, which was never recognised by world churches, pressured the most important Rum institution in Turkey, the Patriarchate.19

1955 onwards. The point of no return: the Cyprus imbroglio begins
(a) The Cyprus question20
The Cyprus question was first taken to the United Nations by Greece in 1954. Since then this issue has proved disastrous for both minority communities. On 6-7 September 1955 street demonstrations in Turkey in reaction to the Cyprus affair soon degenerated into widespread vandalism and violence, during which Rum property in Istanbul and Izmir was ransacked and lives were lost.21

The murder of Cypriot Turks at Christmas in 1963 by Cypriot Greeks caused in turn a Turkish reaction in 1964 that was to have serious ramifications for the Istanbul Rum community. With the aim of retaliation against Greece, the Turkish Government cancelled the work and residence permits of some 13,000 Greek citizens who were living and working in Istanbul under the 1930 Convention. These Greeks were not only those who had come from Greece as a result of the 1930 Ankara Convention but were also Istanbul Rum établis who had Greek, not Turkish, citizenship. They were all expelled. In due course, however, the core of the Istanbul Rum community also left, because many had intermarried with the now-evicted Greek community, and because they feared the consequences of the seemingly interminable Cyprus issue. As a result, Istanbul was almost emptied of its historical Rum community. Also in 1964, education in Greek was once again forbidden on the islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada, and in 1965 many Rum properties were expropriated to build an open agricultural prison, as a result of which many more of the islands’ Rum inhabitants took refuge in Greece (see Erginsoy, n.d , and Alexandris this volume).

(b) Grievances of the Turkish minority
The events of 1964 marked not only the beginning of a period of increased hardship for the Rums, but also for the Muslims of Western Thrace.22 Now that so many Greeks and Rums had left Turkey, there was no longer the same incentive for Greece to treat its Muslim-Turkish minority equitably. Following the coup d’état of the colonels in 1967, conditions for the Muslim-Turkish minority deteriorated.

Article 40 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty gave the Muslim-Turkish minority the right to ‘found, administer, and inspect’ its schools. However, after the coup, school-board elections were no longer permitted. All school and association signs that had the word ‘Turkish’ on them were forbidden (see Akın and Azınlık Postası newspaper items in Oran 1991: 121-25; for pressures on minority education see Whitman 1990: 14-17, 39-42). The Papagos law was repealed by decree 1109/1972 and Turkish schools were again called Muslim schools. Law No. 695/1977 stipulated that graduates of the Salonica Special Academy of Pedagogy (SSAP), an official teacher-training school established in 1966 to train young Pomaks to turn Turkish schools into Greek-medium schools, were appointed by priority, causing interminable school boycotts,23especially by students of Pomak origin.24 As of 1984, the lycée students had to sit their exams in Greek, even for Turkish-medium courses, as a result of which after 1985 students were no longer able to pass their exams successfully and graduate from the Komotini lycée, the only official Turkish-medium high school. Furthermore, teachers and books that should have been arriving from Turkey were not allowed into Greece. As a result, many youngsters (who, unlike their counterparts in Istanbul, do not have the opportunity of going to American or European lycées) try to go to Turkey for their secondary and higher education. The great majority of those who leave do not come back, largely because university diplomas obtained in Turkey are not recognised in Greece by the official body which accredits foreign higher education qualifications (DIKATSA). (This policy was abandoned at the end of 1994 except in two fields: Turkish language and theology.)

According to provisions of Law No. 2345/1920 the religious leaders (muftis) of the Muslim-Turkish community were to be elected by the Muslim community itself. This law was never applied, however, and when it was repealed in December 1990 the new decree (No. 182) provided for a mufti appointed by the Minister of National Education and Religious Affairs. The community sees this as a severe blow to religious freedoms and calls this mufti ‘the Mufti of the Christians’. In the same vein, since presidential decree No. 1 of 3 January 1991, wakfs (the pious foundations that form the economic and social backbone of the Muslim-Turkish community) have come under the strict administration of provincial governors. In contrast, the Greek state has no involvement at all in the selection of Orthodox clergy and administration of Orthodox institutions (see Oran 1991: 155-71; also Whitman 1990: 26-9).

As for civil society, the three main associations of the Muslim-Turkish minority, namely the Xanthi Turkish Union (founded 1927), the Komotini Turkish Youth Union (1928), and the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers’ Union (1936), were closed down in November 1987 on the grounds that the word ‘Turkish’ in their titles should only refer to citizens of Turkey, and that its use to describe Greek Muslims endangered public order. As a result, a large demonstration took place in Komotini, supported mainly by Pomaks coming from the forbidden zone in the north (Oran 1991: 172-81; also Whitman 1990: 16-17).

Whereas in the past the Muslim-Turkish minority was subjected to oppression only from the police, in reaction to the growing expression of Turkishness within the minority, the authorities recently connived in other forms of pressure. Mass attacks on life and property started to occur. On 29 January 1990 several mobs damaged Muslim-Turkish workplaces in Komotini following the broadcast of an erroneous news item on a local radio station. In addition, fifty people, including the acting mufti and a Muslim-Turkish MP, were injured. The police did not intervene. Similar mob attacks took place in August 1991 and again in December 1997 and July 1998 in Komotini with no effective police intervention.

Not only the right to petition, vote and be elected, but also the right to a fair trial had ceased to exist for the Muslim-Turkish community in Western Thrace. This can be illustrated in the case of Sadik Ahmet, an MP (who later died in a controversial car accident on 25 July 1995). After he prepared a petition titled ‘Grievances and Requests of the Turkish-Muslim Minority Living in Western Thrace’ supported by 13,000 signatures, he was sentenced on 24 June 1988 to thirty months in prison and fined 100,000 drachmas. In addition, under the charge of ‘openly or indirectly inciting citizens to violence or creating division among the population at the cost of social peace’ - by using the adjective ‘Turkish’ in their campaign literature - he and Ibrahim Şerif, an MP, were each sentenced on 26 January 1990 to eighteen months in prison and were deprived of their political rights for three years. Some seven months after Dr. Ahmet became an independent MP in the national elections of April 1990, the electoral system was amended. The amendment set a 3 percent minimum vote requirement for independent candidates, making the election of an independent Muslim-Turk impossible.25

Under the terms of Article 19 of the Greek law on citizenship (3370/1955), the Muslim-Turks of Western Thrace risked losing their citizenship without a hearing or an effective right of appeal, in the process becoming stateless persons. This provision stated that a person of ‘non-Greek ethnic origin’ going abroad ‘without the intention of returning’ may be deprived of citizenship. Article 19 put Greece in an indefensible position. In 1990 it was referred to by the U.S. State Department in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in the following terms: ‘[In Greece] exile is unconstitutional and does not occur, except in the form of an administrative decree on the loss of citizenship by non-ethnic Greeks’ (Section Greece, 1/D). Article 19 was used in conjunction with another method to inhibit the freedom of movement of the minority in Western Thrace: from 1985 the police began crossing out ‘including return’ in the passports of Muslim-Turks, mostly illiterates, visiting Turkey. These people were then denied re-entry upon return to the Greek border and were also deprived of citizenship under Article 19. Moreover, movement is not only restricted between Greece and Turkey: because of the forbidden zone it is restricted within Western Thrace as well. Article 19 was denounced in 1991 by Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis as ‘the product of another era’, but it was only repealed in July 1998 under pressure from the European Union, but without retrospective effect. The numbers of the stateless persons it created from 1955 to 1998 are not known exactly, but estimated at ten thousand by the Western Thrace minority.26

The Muslim-Turkish minority in Western Thrace is 70 percent peasant. In 1922 it owned 84 percent of the land in Western Thrace, but now the minority estimates this figure to be 20–40 percent. This stems from various practices of the Greek administration. Firstly, the Orthodox population is encouraged to buy Muslim-Turkish land with soft loans granted by the state for this purpose.27 Secondly, laws are systematically applied in a discriminatory way. Fertile land under the ownership of the minority is expropriated for political motives such as for the building of prisons and universities (see Oran 1991: 240-44; also Whitman 1990: 35-36). At the same time, the policy of anadasmos (land consolidation) also works against the minority (see Akın, 6 May and 21 June 1977 in Oran 1991: 245). Thirdly, possession documents and title deeds are not recognised (see Oran 1991: 247-60). Lastly, between 1965 and the end of the 1990s, Law No. 1366/1938 was used to stop the minority purchasing new property. Under this law, purchase and sale of real estate and even the use of possession rights were subject to special licence. Law No. 1366/1938 applied in the coastal areas, frontiers, and on the islands - in all, nearly half the total area of Greece. Christians had no problems, but Muslim-Turks did.28 However, this problem too has eased in recent years, again following pressure from the European Union, this time after a British citizen encountered problems buying land in a coastal area (see European Court of Justice decision dated 30 May 1989).

The minority also faced particular difficulties in opening and running businesses. When a Turk applied to open a business the authorities were zealous in insisting on absolute compliance with even the most minor and unimportant rules and regulations, a standard not applied in practice to ethnic Greeks (see Whitman 1990: 57 and 36-37; also Oran 1991: 227-30). In addition, once a business started, its running was hindered through harassment by tax officers.29 The minority has also been discriminated against when applying for various licences (tractor driving, hunting rifles, etc.) but these measures have also been alleviated in recent years (see Ileri, 1 October 1982 (a Xanthi newspaper) in Oran 1991: 227; also Whitman 1990: 37).

The Greek administration seems to have a dual aim in Western Thrace: to assimilate the Muslim minority of Pomak ethnic origin, and to encourage the emigration of the Muslim minority of Turkish ethnic origin. As a consequence of pressure, the Muslim minority of Turkish ethnic origin has been inclined to migrate to Turkey. Others have chosen to work in Germany, where they have set up active associations to inform European public opinion of the violations in Western Thrace. As stated above, some 400,000 people are estimated to have left Western Thrace since 1923. Some of this number are stateless persons as a result of Article 19. However, several factors keep the numerical size of this minority more or less stable Firstly, Greece offers better economic opportunities than Turkey. Secondly, Turkey has been shaken with anarchy since the end of 1960s and with terrorism since 1984. Thirdly, the minority is a community mainly of peasants; people do not readily leave their land. Lastly, and most importantly, the Western Thrace minority’s population growth rate is as high as 2.8 percent, while the average for Greece is 0.7 percent.

(c) Grievances of the Rum minority30
The Rums of Turkey have experienced very similar problems to those of the Muslim-Turks of Western Thrace in the field of education: books and teachers in short supply, difficulty with school administration and repairs to buildings, etc. However, there is one difference with the situation in Western Thrace: there has been no denial of the Rums’ identity.31 School signs that read ‘Rum Minority School’ were kept in place, with only one exception that I know of: the sign at the entrance to the Istanbul Rum Phanar Lycée that reads in Greek letters, ‘The Great School of Our Race’. It was removed in May 1970 in retaliation for the breaking of the marble sign in Arabic letters on the 114-year-old Xanthi Clock Tower.

In the religious and social spheres too, the Rums of Turkey have generally had the same kind of problems as their Muslim-Turkish counterparts in Western Thrace. Although the Patriarch is elected by his fellow clergymen, the Turkish administration, in accordance with the custom based on the Rum Patrikliği Nizamatı (Rules Concerning the Rum Patriarchate) of 1862, has always interfered with all but the final of the election lists prepared by the clergymen by crossing out some of the names. Perhaps more importantly, the Halki School of Theology was closed by a decree of the Constitutional Court in 1971 nationalising private institutions of higher learning, making it impossible to educate the Orthodox clergy in Turkey. Partly as a result of this, but also because the numbers of Rum Orthodox have diminished to under three thousand, the Patriarchate itself is on the road to extinction. In addition, Rum pious foundations have come under pressure. The Turkish administration has declared that all donations made to the communal institutions of non-Muslim minorities are the property of the government. Other violations concerning fundamental or economic rights have also consistently occurred. Most notably there has been harassment from the police and interference in the election of school and religious-foundation board members by the Governor of Istanbul.

As a consequence of these pressures and violations, the Rums of Istanbul and of the islands Gökçeada and Bozcaada have migrated to Greece, leaving very few of their number behind. These migrants usually retain their Turkish citizenship, but their grandchildren have become Greek citizens and do not speak Turkish. Consequently, the Rum minority of Turkey is almost extinct, numbering no more than 2,500, most of whom are senior citizens. However, there are also other reasons why the Rum minority in Turkey has failed to maintain its numbers in the same way that the Muslim-Turkish minority in Western Thrace has. Firstly, the marriage opportunities for the Rum community in Turkey became increasingly limited because, after the expulsion of Greek citizens from Turkey in 1964, many young Rum men who did not want to serve in the Turkish army (where they were not made reserve officers) left for Greece. Secondly, there is the factor described by one Japanese researcher as the ‘footloose Greek merchant’ (Kamozawa 1982: 129). The Istanbul Rums had lived for several centuries as more or less wealthy city dwellers and so, unlike the peasants of Western Thrace, they were not dependent on land. Consequently, their horizons were not as limited. When the pressures on the Rum community intensified after the Second World War because of the events unfolding in Cyprus, they were better placed to migrate owing to their long-maintained commercial links with Europe. Migration to Greece was further encouraged by the relative strength of the Greek economy (per capita income four times that of Turkey) and by Greece’s eventual membership of the EEC. The Rums transferred what capital they had to Athens and reorganised their businesses there. Thirdly, besides police harassment, the Rums, an upper middle- and middle-class community, were greatly disturbed by the anarchic atmosphere prevailing in Turkey from 1968 until the end of the 1990s. Lastly, as city people, they had a very low rate of population growth.

The Rum inhabitants of Gökçeada and Bozcaada were not, of course, city folk like the Istanbul minority. Nevertheless, they too left. It seems that the psychological atmosphere of foreboding created by the quasi-extinction of the Istanbul Rums, together with the background of ongoing pressures, including withdrawal of the right to education in their mother tongue, has been too much for them to bear.

Lessons to be drawn from the 1923 experience

The end of the Soviet Union heralded a new era in international politics in the 1990s. In the Balkans this could justifiably be called the opening of ‘Pandora’s box’, for the suffering of minorities and the creation of refugees - considered things of the distant past in Europe - came on to the international agenda with renewed urgency. But can we draw any lessons from the most radical solution adopted so far for this kind of problem, the compulsory exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923? Bearing in mind the important parallels between the post-First World War situation and the post-Cold War era of today, a review of the relative successes and failures of the Convention and its implementation would, I believe, be particularly timely.

Both eras mark transitory periods of striking importance for the nation-state, i.e., the ‘motherland’ In the first, the keynote was the transition from imperialism to nationalism; in the second and current era it is the transition from nationalism to globalisation.32 The current era, like the post-First World War era, plays host to two main trends concurrently: nationalism and globalisation. The post-First World War era saw a continuation of the irredentist policy of Greece in the 1820s on the one hand, and on the other, in response to the Greek threat, a burgeoning Turkish nationalism. In the current era, on the one hand we see a continuation of the irredentist policy of Serbia, whose expansion was prohibited in the first era, and on the other, in response to the Serbian threat, the Bosnians attempting to construct their national identity, while Albanians and Macedonians try to build their nation-states. The post-First World War era marked the zenith of a second period of globalisation (1890s) in world history. (A previous wave occurred from the 1490s mercantilist period through colonialism.) The post-Cold War era marks the beginning of a third period of globalisation in which it seems inevitable that in the long run there will be a blurring of national identities under the homogenising influence of the global market. For different reasons, both eras have borne witness, to outbursts of nationalist excess.

Let us now proceed to the final observations on the seventy-five year experience of the exchange by re-evaluating the two main articles of the Convention in a contemporary context.

Article 1
The implementation of Article 1 was very successful insofar as it came to realise the purpose of cleansing the nation-state. It is true that the exchange and the resettlement of refugees took considerably more time and effort than anticipated, and in the process gave rise to a great deal of suffering. In the international arena, however, and strictly in terms of the Convention itself, the issue had come to a close by the end of 1930. The overriding reason for this success was the fact that Great Britain, Greece and Turkey all strongly desired a radical exchange of populations, even a compulsory one. It does not follow, however, that a similar exchange could be undertaken in today’s world. In the post-First World War era it was the concept of minority rights, not human rights, that informed the prevailing opinion of the international community. Today the concept of universal human rights is in the ascendancy. This being the case, it is improbable that the international community would again sanction such a large-scale forced exchange of populations.

Article 2
The outcome of Article 2 has been a failure in that it was unable to bring about its declared purpose, i.e., accommodation by Greece and Turkey of culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse societies. The stipulations of Article 2 were met with such reluctance that those who were excluded from the exchange, the respective minorities, never felt themselves a component part of their host-state, and the host-states persisted in considering them as an alien element to be ejected. The reasons for this are numerous.

With hindsight, the fate of the respective minorities was sealed the very day the Convention was signed. Greece and Turkey – and many other states of eastern Europe - were eager to build their own ethnically and religiously homogenous nation and nation-state. However, in their view, the provisions for the protection of minorities imposed on them by the Great Powers undermined the nation-building project. Greece and Turkey, questioning the true motives of the Allies, made attempts to resist these provisions and even to rid themselves of the minorities altogether by making life for them as difficult as possible. Therefore, the main reason for the failure is the fact that, from the outset, the respective minorities were unwelcome elements in both countries. Greece and Turkey accepted them as a necessary evil, or worse, considered them as a Trojan horse left behind by the other side.
Greece and Turkey were not ideal partners for this very difficult undertaking. Their recent history was one of war and bloodshed, they were both in the process of nation-building, and their religions are different. To make matters even worse, other points of conflict have arisen since the exchange, most seriously over Cyprus and the rights to the Aegean.

Permitting minorities to remain in two strategically important areas, i.e., in the Evros province of Greece contiguous to the Turkish border, and on the Turkish islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada at the mouth of the Dardanelles, does not seem to have been conducive to their security and fair treatment.
The guarantee that reciprocity was supposed to deliver was the last hope of both minorities, but this proved to be a cruel one. The moment one state acted unfairly towards its minority community, the minority community of the other has been subjected to retaliatory measures.

It does not follow, however, that a similar project could not be undertaken today. With the spread of globalisation, multi-culturalism is set to become one of the defining characteristics of the post-Cold War era. For example, Greece’s record in the last two years seems to suggest that certain external dynamics (globalisation) can play a positive role in discouraging a state’s mistreatment of its minorities. Greece’s full membership of the European Union has, for the time being, brought meaningful amelioration to two of the Muslims’ most significant grievances: the non-deliverance of building and repair licences and of the requisite permits to buy property, and the application of Article 19 of the citizenship code. On the other hand, the Balkans are still far from ideal as an area for such an initiative.

The nationalist excesses of the 1920s marked the beginning of the era of nationalism; those of the 1990s now mark its end. It is only natural that the forces of destruction unleashed at the close of the era should be even greater than those that attended its inauguration.


As expressed by Mr. Montagna, President of the Sub-Commission on Minorities (and on the Exchange) on 10 January 1923. (Professor Seha L. Meray, integral Turkish translation in eight volumes of the Lausanne Peace Conference, Minutes and Documents, Series 1, Volume 1, Book 1: 321. From here on, references will be made to this Turkish translation as ‘Meray, Lausanne’, but dates of sessions and numbers of minutes taken will also be given to enable the reader to follow in other language editions).

2 The Empire itself was usually marked ‘Turkey’ or ‘Turquie’ in the numerous maps drawn by the Europeans of the period. The French expression se faire Turc, literally ‘to make oneself a Turk’, means to become Muslim. In addition, the Arabs and Palestinians who migrated to Chile at the beginning of the century are still called Turkos.

3 After discussing the territorial questions and the Straits, the Conference convened on 1 December 1922 to discuss an exchange of war prisoners. But Lord Curzon, British Foreign Minister and President of the Conference, announced that Dr. Nansen, the renowned High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, would be reading a report on the exchange of Greek and Turkish populations, an item that did not figure on the agenda. According to Dr. Nansen, the question was of real importance for peace and economic stability in the Near East, as well as for peace in Europe. He had been invited by the representatives of four Great Powers in Istanbul to prepare a treaty for the exchange of minorities to be implemented immediately, before the concluding of the Peace Treaty. He had already obtained the official approval of the Greek Government, and talks were more or less on the way with the Ankara Government, which declared to him ‘at least four times’ that it took a positive stand on the exchange issue (1 December 1922, Minutes no. 8, Meray, Lausanne: 115f.).

4 In the later stages of the Conference, Venizelos seemed to withdraw from the idea of a compulsory exchange, but this was no longer realistic, and was probably only a diplomatic move. Dr. Riza Nur, the Turkish delegate on the Special Committee on Minorities, explains this in his memoirs (written in 1928) by pointing to the probability of the Greek Government of the time, of which Venizelos was not a member, being against the exchange (1967, vol. III: 1113).

5 The Allies’ proposal for a compulsory exchange was a most pleasant surprise for Dr. Nur, who wrote: ‘..I was astonished. I had been wondering all along how in the world I could propose such a thing to them, something unheard of in history. It came all by itself. It was like a present from Heaven.’ (1967, vol. III: 1040)

6 The National Pact (Misak-ı Milli) was a declaration by the last Ottoman Parliament on 28 January 1920 regarding the minimum requirements for a just and durable peace. It laid claim to the lands still in the hands of the Ottoman armies as of 30 October 1918 - the date of the Mudros Armistice – which would give the country defensible boundaries, more or less corresponding to the present borders of the Turkish Republic, with the exception of Batumi in Georgia, the Sandjak of Alexandretta (joined to Turkey in 1939) and Mosul in Iraq. The Kemalists considered the Misak-ı Milli their holy aim.

7 Ismet Pasha profited from the fact that the exclusion of Western Thrace from the exchange was proposed by Lord Curzon at the very outset. See 1 December 1922, Meray, Lausanne: 124.

8 Thus the exchange did not include Catholic or Protestant Rums. However, the Turkish delegate would have preferred the group subject to the exchange to be defined as ‘Rums of Turkish citizenship’ so that ‘Greek irredentism disappears from Turkey’ (16 January 1923 afternoon session, Minutes no. 4, Meray, Lausanne, Series 1, Volume 1, Book 2: 312).

9 According to Article 3, those now subject to the exchange who, prior to 18 October 1912, had left the territories were to be considered in the scope of Article 1, i.e., exchangeables. The number of the Rums who fled Turkey in August 1922 is generally given in Western sources as some one million, bringing the total number hosted by Greece to around 1.2 million. However, Bilal Şimşir, a Turkish historian, notes that the number of those who fled around August 1922 before the exchange was less than half a million and that 150,000 of them were those who had come to settle in Turkey after 1919. According to this calculation, the number of those hosted by Greece is around 700,000 (see Şimşir 1989: 381).

10 Therefore, in contradistinction to Article 1, all the Rums of Istanbul (not only Orthodox Rums) were declared non-exchangeables. Some of these were citizens of the Greek state.

11 As in the case of the Karamanli Orthodox who spoke only Turkish and of some Muslims (Cretans in particular) who spoke only Greek (see Stelaku and Koufopoulou, this volume).

12 Many Rum Orthodox who left Turkey for Greece, especially those from the Izmir and Istanbul areas, belonged to a higher social class than the mainland Greeks. As a result, they were met with jealousy and despised as Turkosporoi (‘Turkish seeds’). In addition, they also segregated themselves from indigenous Greeks. Izmir Rums founded Nea Smyrni and a sports club called Pan-Ionion, and many Istanbul Rums live in Faliron where they support the athletic club AEK (Athletiki Enosis Konstantinopoli). On the other hand, the habits of many of the Muslims who left Greece for Turkey were much more liberal than their new, rather conservative compatriots. Indigenous Turks considered them yarı gâvur (‘half-infidel’), despised them as muhacir (immigrants), and for a long time abstained from intermarriage with them (see Köker, this volume).

13 While the rights of the Rum minority consist solely of those laid down in the Lausanne Peace Treaty, the Exchange Convention and the Ankara Convention of 10 June 1930, the Muslim-Turks of Western Thrace also have minority rights as laid down in two other instruments: the Athens Treaty and its Protocol no3 (14 November 1913) and the Treaty on the Protection of the Minorities in Greece (10 August 1920). The Athens Treaty is a bilateral treaty concluded between Greece and the Ottoman Empire at the end of the second Balkan War to protect the rights of Muslims in Greece (see Oran 1991: 62-64; for the text of the Treaty (in Turkish) see Erim 1953: 477-88. The Treaty on the Protection of Minorities in Greece is a multilateral treaty concluded between Greece and the Great Powers (see Oran 1991: 72-75; for the text of the Treaty see British Foreign and State Papers, Vol. 113, p. 471). For a legal appraisal of the validity of these treaties and an analysis of the probable political reasons for Greece declaring that it does not recognise these two, see Oran 1991: 101-12.

14 Whıtman (1990: 2) estimated that, even with a population growth rate of 2 percent (which is an underestimate) the size of the Western Thrace minority today ought to be around 500,000.

15 This situation, which was implicitly acknowledged by Venizelos at the Conference (1 December 1922, Meray, Lausanne: 122), was allowed to come about when the Greek Minister of Agriculture, Anastas Bakkalbasi, revoked an eviction order demanding sixty thousand Rum refugees leave the homes of the Muslims in Western Thrace on page 2 of an election pamphlet he published in his bid to be re-elected in 1950. See Trakya, 24 May 1954 (a newspaper in Turkish published by O.N. Fettahoğlu from 1932 to 1964 in Xanthi/Iskeçe).

16 In addition there was considerable pressure on the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate in 1926 to renounce the first paragraph of Article 42 of the Peace Treaty (concerning personal and family status). I do not mention this in the text because it did not concern the Rums only, rather all non-Muslim minorities. However, it should also be included among the Rums’ grievances. At that date, the Swiss Civil Code was adopted, which made civil marriage compulsory. Non-Muslim minorities were urged to comply with the law and have civil marriage executed first, the religious ceremony later. The Jewish and Armenian communities complied, but the Rums were ‘persuaded’ only much later (see Alexandris 1983: 136-38).

17 At that time there was a labour shortage and a need for specialised skills in certain sectors in Turkey because of the vacuum left by the departed non-Muslims, while in Greece there was excess population and unemployment. A special dispatch from Robert Skinner in Athens to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington D.C. (25 October 1930, no. 767.68/684) suggests that Venizelos badly needed ‘new avenues of employment’ when he visited Ankara in 1930 to make these agreements (see Records of the Department of State Relating to the Political Relations of Turkey, Greece and the Balkan States, 1930-1939, microfilm no. MT1245 - I thank Dr. Ayhan Aktar for this document). One of the three agreements signed on 30 October 1930 provided for free circulation between the two countries enabling unemployed Greeks to come and settle in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul. Their number is unknown. However, the large advantages conferred by the 30 October 1930 Ankara Convention were definitely more significant for the Greek-citizen Rums of Istanbul than for the few Greeks (numbers unknown) who came from Greece.

18 For the forbidden zone, see de Jong 1980: 98, Whitman 1990: 14.

19 For the story of this movement, which while not created or supported by it, was nevertheless shown much tolerance by the Turkish government, see Alexandris 1983: 149ff; O’Mahony (forthcoming). The reason that I do not mention the ‘Citizen, Speak Turkish’ campaigns, the turkification of commerce of the 1930s, and the Wealth Tax (Varlik Vergisi) of 1942 is that these were ‘nationalist’ initiatives targeted at all the non-Muslim minorities, not against the Rum community in particular. For instance, the economic nationalism of the Kemalists used the notorious Wealth Tax to break the quasi-monopoly that the non-Muslim bourgeoisie exercised over the economy. What began as a badly needed extraordinary tax in the miserable war years developed in the pro-fascist atmosphere of the period into a shameful discriminatory practice against non-Muslim minorities. It goes without saying that the Wealth Tax in particular and the other nationalist initiatives of the period in general should be considered among the grievances of the Rum minority.

20 The independence and constitution of the island, the population of which at that time was one-fifth Turkish and four-fifths Rum Cypriot, was guaranteed by Turkey, Greece and Great Britain. However, Greece and the Cypriot Greek community were pressing for Enosis, union with Greece.

21 This shameful event (which also affected other non-Muslim minorities) was initially a display of anti-Rum feeling organised by the Cyprus Is Turkish Association, but it was obvious that it enjoyed the tacit approval of the Government, which hoped that the demonstrations would show that it enjoyed the support of public opinion during the ongoing London Conference on Cyprus. However, the mob ran free, the police stood by, and the demonstration turned into a frenzy of looting and plundering. When Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was tried after the coup d’état of 1960, the Turks learned that the bombing of Atatürk House in Salonica that triggered the violence was in fact instigated by the Turkish secret police.

22 The main problem with documenting discriminatory practices is that, except for some limited cases (as in the case of Article 19 of the citizenship law, repealed in 1998), the text of the laws is not discriminatory in itself: their official application is. For example, Law no. 1366/1938 does not state that the minority shall not be given permission to buy land in coastal areas etc.; the rules of anadasmos do not state that the minority shall be given less land or land in arid areas after the lands are unified; nor that tax inspection rules for Muslim-Turkish shops shall be much more strict; nor that Muslim-Turkish title deeds to property shall not be recognised. Nevertheless, such extensive discriminatory practice took place between the mid-1950s and the end of the 1990s, at which point European Union efforts obliged the Greek state sensibly to ease these pressures and even to end some of them, as in the case of Article 19 in 1998. Probably the most detailed account and analysis of these human and minority rights violations (and on the question of Western Thrace in general) is my book, Türk-Yunan Ilişkilerinde Batı Trakya Sorunu (Oran 1991). The non-Turkish speaking reader can follow (and see confirmed) the same violations through the less detailed report on the Turks of Greece by Whitman (1992) and also through the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Section Greece, published yearly by the U.S. Department of State.

23 For reports of boycotts by students of Pomak origin see Trakya’nin Sesi, 25 September 1982 (published in Xanthi); for a letter concerning Pomak students’ complaint about SSAP teachers to the Minister for National Education and Religious Affairs, Apostolos Caclamanis, see Oran 1991: 133-34.

24 In Western Thrace the Pomaks are known for being ‘more Turkish than the Turks’ and the Romany for being ‘more Turkish than the Pomaks’.

25 On cases against Dr. Sadik Ahmet see Oran 1991: 195-210; also Whitman 1990: 17-22.

26 On Article 19 and on violations concerning passports see Oran 1991: 213-19; also Whitman 1990: 11-13.

27 According to the agreement dated 22 November 1966 between the Greek Central Bank and the Agricultural Bank concerning credit facilities to be extended to ‘Hellenic nationals of Christian religion willing to buy lands and agricultural constructions belonging to the Muslim-Turks of Thrace’, such Hellenes receive a credit covering the price of the land and/or farmhouse with surrounding land, and also all expenses pertaining to such a purcahse. The last two articles of the agreement signed between the bank and the individual are as follows: ‘The above-mentioned sum will be paid back over twenty years in the form of equal instalments, to be started two years after the credit has been appropriated’ and ‘In case of misuse of this credit [i.e., if the credit is used for any other purpose] the Agricultural Bank is entitled to ask for the immediate restitution of the said credit.’ Both left and extreme right-wing newspapers in Greece have severely criticised the application of this practice saying that, inter alia, it created ‘many billionaires’ as many borrowers exaggerated the price of the land and used the rest of the credit for other purposes. See Embros, 25 September, 30 October, 5 and 6 November 1985 (a left-wing newspaper printed in Xanthi) and Hronos, 30 October, 12 November 1985 (an extreme right-wing newspaper printed in Komotini); also Oran 1991: 237-40; Whitman 1990: 39.

28 On cases of official refusal to sell land to the minority see Akın 14 November 1969, 6 and 21 November 1972, 7 February 1975, 13 February 1978, in Oran 1991: 261. For the list of thirty-threenon-answered demands of repair made between June 1973 and June 1981 see ibid.: 268 footnote 163. On official refusal to grant repair permits to houses and mosques see Akın 4 September 1976 in ibid.: 222; also International Herald Tribune, 28 December 1982; and Whitman 1990: 32-35

29 On this issue see the text of a collective and detailed complaint written in Komotini, dated 29 August 1984 and sent by nine minority leaders to the Undersecretary of Finance Dimitrios Tsovolas, in Oran 1991: 231-34.

30 My main source is Alexis Alexandris, the undisputed expert on this subject, with particular reference to his 1983 book The Greek Minority of Istanbul and Greek-Turkish Relations, 1918-1974, and to his 1980 article, ‘Imbros and Tenedos: A Study in Turkish Attitudes Toward Two Ethnic Greek Island Communities Since 1923’. The plight of the Rums in Turkey can also be followed from the Helsinki Watch report on the Greeks of Turkey (Whitman 1992a), and from the U.S. Department of State’s yearly Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Section Turkey.

31 Whitman in ‘The Greeks of Turkey’ (Helsinki Watch 1992a) is wrong to look for a parallel in this respect. As already noted, the term ‘Rum’ has been the denotation given by the Istanbul minority to themselves since time immemorial. It comes from Romios (pl. Romioi), which means ‘from [eastern] Rome’. They never called themselves ‘Yunanlı’ meaning ‘Greek, citizen of Greece’, a term coined after Greece’s independence following the 1821 revolution. In this respect, it is interesting to note that after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 the Ottoman Sultans started to call themselves ‘Sultan-i Iklim-i Rum’, meaning ‘Sultan of the Rum Lands’. In the same way, after 1639 (when Kurdistan came under Ottoman rule) Kurds called the Turkish soldiers Rum Askeri (Rum soldiers) for the same reason.

32 Globalisation is a much-discussed topic and can best be defined as the universal expansion of the Western system, carrying with it both an infrastructure (capitalism), and superstructure (rationalism, secularism, human and minority rights, democracy, etc.) (see Oran 2000).In the present context, it is very important to note that globalisation will bring a radical change to the concept of territory and therefore to the concept of ‘motherland’. From ‘clan territory’ to ‘manor’ to ‘kingdom’ to ‘national state’ - every time the economic market was enlarged, the concept of ‘motherland’ kept pace with it. There is no reason why this all-important evolution should not alter our concept of motherland now that globalisation carries the economic market from the national state to a much larger and more ambiguous territory called the globe, radically transforming the focus of the supreme loyalty of men.

Kindly Provided by Baskin Oran


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