Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for August 3rd, 2008

Greece Turkey Rapprochement

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 3rd August, 2008

One striking feature in Istanbul these days is the number of Greek tourists, some of whom are actually wedding parties. Apparently it is the chic thing now for grand couples from Thessaloniki to get married by the Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul, rekindling memories of times when the two communities, Greek and Turkish, were much more intermingled. After the First World War, there was a massive movement of population both ways and for much of the rest of the 20th century there was outright hostility between the two nations, especially after the Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974.

Indications of a possible thaw came with the Greek-Turkish ‘earthquake diplomacy’ after the disastrous 1999 Izmit quake, when Greece sent help, and since then there have been all sorts of bilateral contacts. Greece even switched its position vis-a-vis Turkey’s accession to the European Union, now actively suporting it at some time in the future. And most recently, there has been serious movement on Cyprus, following the change of president in Nicosia. It wasn’t all that long ago that a top Greek Cypriot orthodox figure was warning voters that if they supported the subequentrly scuppered Annan peace plan, they would not go to Heaven. But as we have seen in Northern Ireland, even intransigence is not a permanent condition.

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