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Viewpoint: Turkish expansionism and the responsibility of the Greek diaspora

The Turkish threat towards Greece, Cyprus, and the Hellenic nation is perhaps greater than ever before. The Greek diaspora has a responsibility to act.

Illustration of the capture of Smyrna by the army of Kemal Ataturk, 1922.

After taking a long look at today’s world and the position of Hellenism in it, I’ve come to the conclusion that today more than ever before, we the Hellenes of abroad, must come together to examine the problems concerning us. It is no coincidence that at this juncture in history is the anniversary of the destruction of the Hellenic population of Asia Minor. We regret to say that it seems to have been forgotten among the Hellenic communities around the world.

Following the tragic events in Cyprus in 1974, which resulted in the occupation of almost half the island by the hordes of “Attil”a and the expatriation of 200,000 Greek-Cypriot refugees, the Greek-American community stood faithfully on the side of Cypriot Hellenism and offered great help, economically and politically (e.g. lobbying for the arms embargo to Turkey), both on an individual initiative basis and through various organizations (the Orthodox church, AHEPA, the Hellenic-American Institute, the United Hellenic-American Congress, the Hellenic-American Development Alliance, etc.).

Lately, however, in spite of the continuing occupation of Cyprus, and despite the national threat and crisis in Greece, an inexplicable indifference can be observed on the part of global Hellenism, which will prove disastrous if it is not halted and reversed. It is on the shoulders of Greek-Americans that most of the burden of the cause of Cyprus and the Aegean threat by Turkey, lies. This is because Washington is the center where the levers of power are pulled.

This indifference is an ominous reality, and it is due, as I see it, not to apathy on the part of each individual Hellene, but to the lack of an appropriate medium, a carrier of ideas if you will or a conductor, to urge, direct, illuminate and enlighten the Greek-American community, and to keep us always in a state of wakefulness and vigilance.

The formation of such an entity has become imperative today as never before, because along with the occupation of Cyprus, the Aegean is increasingly becoming the object of expansionist designs on the part of Turkey. Both the islands and the maritime waters of the Aegean are in direct danger from Turkish greed and aggression. Furthermore, the very territorial integrity of our land of birth is in danger. It would not be an exaggeration to say that for the first time, the very existence of the Greeks as a nation is endangered.

Some people think erroneously, believing that there are only legal differences between Greece and Turkey which must be solved in the framework of International law and International practice. I believe that Turkey has expansionist designs which aim at annihilating Hellenism. The problem, therefore, is political and not legal.

Consider this: In the period from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Greek revolution of 1821, the Turks exterminated millions of Greeks. In 1821, Greeks numbered five million, of which one million constituted the newly established state of Greece in 1830, and the remaining 4 million remained under Turkish yoke in Asia Minor and were exterminated during the Asia Minor catastrophe. And while at the time of the signing of the Lausanne treaty in 1923 there were 200,000 Greeks living in Constantinople, today there are reportedly 4,000-6,000 left, their numbers dwindling because of persecutions and purges. Already, the Turks seek to have the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate closed down, to once and for all seal the destruction of the last token of Hellenic life in that area.

In the aforementioned period, we lost the Hellenism of Byzantium, of Pontos (the north shores of Asia Minor to the Black Sea), Eastern Thrace, Asia Minor proper, and Eastern Romylia.

Turkish president Tayip Erdogan has called for “border treaty review.” He is probably asking for the borders before the hordes from the East settled in the Greek areas. The following ancient Greek toponyms, with today’s modern names in parentheses, testify to the Hellenisity of those areas will help you:

Aesani (Cavdarhisar), Alexandria (Troas), Amisos (Samson), Adrianople (Edirne), Ancyra (Ankara), Antioch (Antakya), Antioch of Pisidia (Yalvac), Antiphellus (Kas), Aphrodisias (Geyre, nr. Caracas), Aspendos (Belkis), Assos (Behramkale), Attaleia (Antalya), Brusa (Bursa), Claudipolis (Mut), Cnidos (Datca), Colophon (Degirmendere), Constantinople (Istanbul), Dephne (Harbiye), Didyma (Yenihisar), Edessa (Urfs), Ephesus (Efes, nr. Selcuk), Filyos (Hisaronu), Flaviopolis (Kadirli), Galipoli (Gelibolu), Gordion (Yassihuyuk), Halicarnassus (Bodrum), Heraklea (Erekli), Hierapolis (Pamukkale), Issos (Dortyol), Kanes (Kultepe), Lampsacus (Lapseki), Laodices (Denizli), Magnesia ad Sipylus (Manisa), Magnesia and Meander (soke), Midas (Yazilikaya), Milidia (Nr. Arslantepe), Miylassa (Milas), Myra (Demre), Neocaesarea (Niksar), Nicaea (Iznik), Nikomedia (Ismit), Nyssa (Sultanhisar), Olba-Diocaesarea (Uzuncaburc), Pergamum (Pergama), Philadeiphia (Alasehir), Philomenion (Aksehir), Phocea (Foca), Phoenicus (Finike), Pompeiopolis (I) (Viransehir), Pompeiopolis (II) (Taskopru), Sardis (Sart, nr. Salihli), Seleucia (Silifke), Smyrna (Ismir), Telmessos (Ggulluk), Theodosiopolis (Akhisar), Thyatira (Trabzon), Tripolis (Buldan), Troy (Truva) and Xanthos (Kinik).

Indeed, if we are not extremely careful and responsive, we will lose the Hellenism of Cyprus as well.

What will then be left? Hellenism of insular and mainland Greece. Turkish expansionism is already unfolding and threatening the Hellenism of the islands, which is its immediate target, along with the Hellenism of Cyprus. After that, nothing else would be left but the taking and destruction of mainland Greece. That constitutes the Turkish target for the foreseeable future. After such a horrible tragedy, there would remain only the emigrant Hellenism, which would inevitably disappear eventually in the melting pots of the host countries. I have the unshakable belief that the Greeks of abroad must have their own homeland if we are to survive as a nation, and that is desirable and necessary can be seen in the classic examples of the Jews or the Armenians.

Our native land is facing the specter of annihilation, as do the Greeks as a nation. And we, the Greek-Americans of the United States, cannot bear to remain indifferent and cannot view this matter lightheartedly, because Turkish expansionism has been planned, nurtured, strengthened, imposed, and thrust forward by certain circles in the American capital. I am referring in particular to Henry Kissinger, and to recent case of Michael Flynn. These circles, by rote repetition of the stale story about the “strategic importance of Turkey,” the “impending Russian attack,” “impending Islam,” etc., mislead and disorient the political leadership of the United States, the legislators, the intelligentsia, and the American public in general.

Turkey has already formed an Aegean army of 150,000 troops and has placed 120 landing craft opposite the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. This is a clear indication towards a specific policy, the policy that brought the Turkey into Cyprus, and the policy that keeps arming Ankara under the pretext of acting in the framework of NATO. Such a policy is aimed at the occupation of the Aegean islands and the destruction of the insular Hellenism of the Aegean.

However, this policy against Greece can be reversed with a well-planned, methodical, and continuous dissemination of information to the political leadership, members of the legislative and executive branches, intellectuals, public figures, and the American public at large. This can be accomplished only with the creation of an organ, the purpose of which would be to embrace the Hellenes of the United States, to bring them together, to come in contact with the prominent leaders, statement, scientists and men of letters among them, to inform, coordinate and direct them, so that they, the Hellenes, in turn, will become carriers of the developed ideas to points of impact, e.g. the president, senators, the secretaries of various governmental departments, and other faces of power.

If this concept comes into fruition here in the United States, it can later can be expanded to other countries with sizable Hellenic communities, such as Canada, Australia, etc., so that all the Hellenic elements around the world would be united into an international bond of Hellenism, aimed at saving our native land from the Turkish peril and threats, which are manifest and lurking. This must be done as soon as possible, because if Turkish expansionism over the Aegean materializes tomorrow, it will find us unprepared, and the consequences will be catastrophic.

In view of all the above, we all have to take an action, which under the present crucial circumstances for our native land, I considered a struggle for country and family, for altar and hearth, for the survival of Hellenism.

Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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