By Marina Spanos
The Ottoman Empire enriched Greece's "national heritage" according to Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. A report on the military news site defencenet, claims that the (provocative, pitiful and ludicrous) statement by Venizelos was made to the journalist Asligul Atasagun for Turkey's TV- Cine5 channel.
Was it Venizelos' declaration of allegiance to the "Sublime Porte" of "Sultan" R.T.Erdogan? It could have well been. Does this also mean that we can expect a deeper Turkification of Greek life with more Turkish soap operas, or even mosques across Athens, or in other areas of the country such as Thessaloniki, Eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the islands of Rhodes, or Kos? Noone knows, but at a time when there is so much increased tension in the Eastern Mediterranean -most of which is being generated by Turkey- one has to really wonder exactly what the Greek Minister was shooting at when he made these unprecedented, uncalled for, and anti-Hellenic statements.
My commentary would have ended there, but I was bothered by his statements to burden Greek taxpayers with the construction of a grand Mosque.
According to the article, he told the Turkish channel that Greek taxpayers' money will be used to construct a mosque in Athens.
"Yes, clearly a mosque is a public project, donated by the State to the Muslim community in Athens, because we are talking about a public entity, not a private initiative. The infrastructure will serve the religious needs of the Muslim community in Athens and this is something that is obvious and necessary for every European, modern society without prejudice," said Venizelos.Anyone who reads HellasFrappe knows very well that we respect all religions and religious beliefs, but the issue of constructing a mosque, or any such religious center will not be supported by us especially when we know that it has been requested by Ankara.
The reason (s)? It (they) is (are) quite simple really. Has Turkey ever funded the construction of a Greek church in Constantinople, or elsewhere on its territory? Quite the contrary, in many areas Greek churches were forcibly transformed into Mosques or they were even used as bathrooms! Even Greek Christian burial sites have not been respected in Turkey, and it was not long ago when our blog featured a fashion layout at one such Christian cemetery with young Turkish fashion models posing over Christian headstones.
This is why Venizelos' statements angered me. Why do we continue to close our eyes in the name of diplomacy to a country that harbors barbarians that eat body parts of Christians on live camera, that supports the trafficking of human beings, that commits GENOCIDES, that invaded Cyprus, that forcibly Turkifies citizens in our own country and that is provoking the men and women in our defence forces everyday with all its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean?
To please and impress who? NATO? The EU?
I cannot understand why our society tolerates weak men such as Venizelos who obviously bend over backwards to the Sultan almost 200 years after real men such as Kolokotronis fought for our Independence. Doesn't he realize that our ancestors are rolling in their graves with his statements?
The Ottoman Empire was not beneficial to Greeks, and I personally challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. In fact I believe it set the Greek people back hundreds of years. Our nation was once glorified. We gave birth to democracy, the sciences, the arts, drama, the Olympics, etc.. And as we all know democracy is far from Sharia Law and the "dark years of bondage".
Diplomats can turn a blind eye to the truth, sugar-coat everything and throw dust in our eyes in the name of strengthening relations (or basically following the "politically correct" demands of the imperialists) but we know the truth because the wounds from all of Turkey's actions against Greece are still too fresh. In fact the only thing we feel towards Turkish foreign policy are feelings of animosity, mistrust and suspicion.
Please, do not misunderstand my point, I have no intent on demonizing the people of Turkey, but I do have the right -as a Greek citizen- to disagree and criticize Turkish foreign policy (which as we all know has never changed for decades now). Besides, Turkey's actions throughout the centuries to our Diaspora in Pontus, in Asia Minor, and in Cyprus, as well as to our brothers in Armenia, the Assyrians, the Syrians, and even the Kurds has done a pretty good job of demonizing itself all on its own.
An impasse? Perhaps but this is obviously based on factual history and never ending trauma. As we all know, history cannot be rewritten, nor can it be ignored. It can only be interpreted to serve the interests of all of those who choose to follow a "politically correct" world.
Shame on you Mr. Venizelos. How terribly humiliating for all Greeks.
(Editor's Note: Warning to the leadership of the New Democracy party. Get Venizelos out of the Greek Foreign Ministry because he is doing more damage to the government than good! Being politically correct is one thing, but bending over backwards to the Sultan is not only disgraceful it is way out of line!)
Here is the full interview without any editing!
Journalist: Recently, President Erdogan during his last visit to northern Cyprus had stated that 'to reopen the Theological School of Halki, Greece should legalize "elected muftis' of the Turkish minority in Greece, and to open the mosque in Athens. " How do you rate the appeal of Erdogan and also will open the mosque in Athens, which is the only European capital which has a mosque?
EY. Venizelos: As you know, in the field of human rights, in the field of minority rights, each state has the constitutional and institutional obligation to apply existing regulations and to respect the rights without reciprocity. This is not reciprocal, but unilateral obligation of Turkey and Greece, and every country to respect international law, human rights and especially the rights of minorities. The Greece is simultaneously an obligation to respect the rights of minorities, and in the context of the famous historical Treaty of Lausanne, under the Greek Constitution, which is a very modern European Constitution and under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights but also in international law as organized legal system with the necessary judicial review.
Especially for muftis in Thrace, as you know, the mufti is a dual organ, not only religious services but primarily judge, public body, because in Greece, and under the Treaty of Lausanne, the mufti is above all responsible for the application of Sharia law, the traditional Islamic law. This is something very important, because in this respect the mufti is part of the legal but mostly of our judicial system. I know some suggestions and ideas for you to distinguish the two powers. We are always ready to discuss on various ideas, but not on the basis of reciprocity, because this is something that is not acceptable to European standard.
This is not an Exchange issue, trading between Greece and Turkey. We unilaterally as an entity of the international community, as a country, as a rule, the obligation to respect the rights of minorities - and our policy is full participation, full integration of the Muslim minority in Thrace in Greek economic, social, political life and the education system, in our professional lives. This is something very important not only for the Muslim minority and the Greek society as a European society with western culture, as a member of the European Union.
Journalist: Mr. Minister, the "Turkish minority" in Western Thrace ..
EY. Venizelos: not a "Turkish minority". In the terminology of the Treaty of Lausanne, this is a religious Muslim minority, this is very important because it is not a national minority.
Journalist: At this point, I would like to ask the following: there are many reactions by Greek citizens of Turkish origin, belonging to the Muslim minority. The government took a step and would mark the minority "Turkish"?
EY. Venizelos:If you talk to collective and legal entities must respect international law. Under international law, in particular under the Treaty of Lausanne, we must talk about religion, Muslim minority in Thrace. If your comment is a comment made at the level of so-called self-determination, self-determination is an individual right, according to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Journalist: And as far as the mosque, Minister ...
EY. Venizelos: For us, not only a mosque and the Muslim Ottoman heritage in Greece is part of our national heritage and as a former Minister of Culture, I can reiterate that the restoration and promotion of the Ottoman and Muslim monuments in Greek territory is a great advantage, not only for our cultural policy and our cultural heritage, but also for our tourism industry.
Journalist: So we could say that in the future there will be a mosque in Athens.
EY. Venizelos: Yes, very clearly. A mosque is a public project, donated by the State to the Muslim community in Athens. Because we are talking about a public entity, not a private initiative. We are talking about a public legal entity and the related infrastructure to serve the religious needs of the Muslim community in Athens. This is something obvious and necessary for every European, modern society without prejudice.
Journalist: Mr. Minister, after Ankara will go to Istanbul where he will meet Bartholomew and the Pope to visit Turkey. As orthodox, what symbolizes for you, for the Orthodox Church, the Pope's visit?
EY. Venizelos: The Pope's visit is an excellent opportunity for the international community to the past to understand the particular institutional and doctrinal role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the other pillar of Christianity, Eastern Christianity, the first Church of the East Christianity. And in this regard, new meetings between the two bishops, Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople, New Rome, always offer an excellent opportunity not only to relaunch and renew the theological dialogue, but also for a wide public debate on the status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
For Turkey, the existence of the Patriarchate in your country is a great advantage, not only for tourist purposes but also because the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the oldest institution in the region, a benchmark for the global community, for the Christian community around the world. And in this respect the status and legal personality - the international and domestic legal personality - the Ecumenical Patriarchate can be also an excellent argument for the European perspective of Turkey.
Reference in Greek - defencenet