100th Anniversary of the Pontic Genocide

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May 19, 1919 has different and even opposing meanings in Turkey and Greece, just as May 15, 1948, marks both the establishment of Israel and, for Palestinians, the start of the Nakba (“catastrophe”).

In Turkey, this date marks the first step that led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic, while for descendants of Ottoman Greeks and Greece it marks the end of the centuries-long Pontic Greek presence on the shores of the Black Sea. Whereas Turks celebrate May 19, Greeks mourn it.   

Researcher Tamer Çilingir summarised the issue in a 2016 interview with the Turkish-Armenian daily Agos:

“The Pontic Genocide is the last phase of Great Christian Genocide that started in 1894 with Sultan Abdulhamid’s massacres against Armenians and continued with the Union and Progress Party’s 1915 slaughter that killed 1.5 million Armenians and almost 300,000 Assyrians. People that had lived for 600 years in Pontus were either forced to convert to Islam or massacred between 1914 and 1923 or were banished in 1923 during the Turkish-Greek population exchange.

Between 1914 and 1921, some 353,000 Pontic Greeks were killed in the region: 134,078 in Amasya, Samsun, and Giresun; 64,582 in Tokat; 17,479 in Maçka; and 21,448 in Şebinkarahisar, along with 50,000 who died during the population exchange.

With the arrival of Mustafa Kemal — the founder of Turkey, who was later given the surname Atatürk, meaning “father of the Turks” — to Samsun on May 19, 1919, the process transformed into total annihilation. The first thing Mustafa Kemal did was to have a meeting with Topal Osman, a Turkish militia leader known for his anti-Greek brutality.”

The target was not only the lives of the Greeks, but also their properties and wealth. 

Studies conducted outside Turkey show that the Pontic Genocide was a multi-year conscious annihilation process. In Turkey, people are either or totally ignorant of these events or wrongly interpret them as in line with the official narrative that blames secessionist Pontic Greeks.   

In recent years, some strong research has begun to emerge on the genocides against Armenians and Assyrians. But there is scarcely any reliable information available on the Pontic Genocide, as both academia and opinion makers largely ignore the subject.  

In Turkey, talking about the past and present of Pontic Greeks in the Black Sea provinces is likely to result in curses, insults, and worse.

Even the word “Pontus” is unacceptable to Turkey’s government. This past Saturday, a modest gathering in Ankara meant to commemorate the Pontic Greek genocide was forbidden by the governor.

Despite a total denial within Turkey, the issue has been on the agenda abroad for some time now. I asked historian Taner Akçam, one of the leading authorities on the Armenian Genocide, what had been done so far.

Efforts to jointly research the massacres against Pontic Greeks and Assyrians together with the Armenian Genocide had been gathering pace since mid-2000s.   

In 2011, George Mavropoulos, an engineer and a leader of the Pontic Greek community in the United States, founded the Asia Minor and Pontus Hellenic Research Center in Chicago, a milestone for the movement.

The Zoryan Institute and its director George Shrinian gave vital support to Mavropoulos and his initiative. Mavropoulos began by organising a series of conferences, with the first held in 2008. Research papers presented at the conferences were later published, and a book titled “The Asia Minor Catastrophe and the Ottoman Greek Genocide” was published in 2012. Another, published in 2017, was called “Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks”.

Regarding holistic Ottoman genocides studies, a first happened earlier this month. Aristotle University in Thessaloniki hosted an international conference called “The Genocide of the Christian Populations in the Ottoman Empire and its Aftermath”. This event highlights how advocates have since 2008 sought to draw the attention of academics. It is crucial that studies will now be conducted within academia.

Moreover, in the past, activists and researchers generally focused on their own genocide and reached out to their own communities. From now on, it seems, the Ottoman genocides against non-Muslim populations will be handled with an integrated scientific approach, as Israeli historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi’s do in their new book, “The Thirty Year Genocide,” which estimates that up to 2.5 million Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians were killed in Anatolia from 1894 to 1924.

Turkey has generally failed to use centenaries to remember, learn, understand, question, and come to terms with its past, in order to start healing. Yet our present has largely been shaped by the events that unfolded starting in 1908. Turkish society, opinion leaders and leading academics seem uninterested in the centenaries of the Second Constitutional Era, the Balkan Wars, the Raid on the Sublime Porte, World War One, the Ottoman Genocides, the Treaty of Sevres, and more still to come, excepting of course the centenary of Turkey’s founding.

Instead, everybody seems comfortable parroting official narratives on these troubling deeds and rejecting studies performed abroad as packs of lies. As a result, “diseases” keep relapsing!

One the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Pontic Genocide, it is important to recognise that Turkey, where non-Muslim populations have been erased, has become the most religiously homogeneous yet sterile country in the region.

We will never find normality without reckoning with this great civilisational loss.  

Originally published on 2019-05-21

Author: Cengiz Aktar

Source: Ahval News

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

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100 Years Later: The Greek Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, 1914-1923

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Message in the Bottle, One Hundred Years Later

Smyrna, Ottoman Empire, September 1922

 Dear World  – 

 Our time has come to disperse like wildflower seeds in the wind. We are the last storytellers and children of the Ancients, their legacy and their accomplishments. 

The men and women have been separated. Many men were sent to the interior. Women clutching their babies, even in death, have walked miles. The elders have fallen by the roadside. The children, oh, the sweet children, their eyes are glazed with fear, their words lost, and, yet, they see a butterfly and for one moment, they smile. If only … well, the time has come to share our secret. 

Our secret is one of western civilization, we protected the legacy of the Ancients. It is their spirit, their legacy that demonstrates human accomplishments defy the ages and that in a democracy, people thrive and achieve.

The legends of the Ancient Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos which we protected so honestly and devoutly include legends in mythology – the Amazon women fighter and  the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece; and legends in expanding the knowledge of humankind  –  the first philosopher, Thales; the first scientist Anaximander who showed us the sun and the system of stars and planets and who was even the first to create a map of the world; Anaximenes who explained air; the world traveler, Hecateus; Hippodamos, who showed us how to build villages with wide straight streets with a city center and even how to reward inventors for their ideas; the architect Isidoros who helped build the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and who identified the the T-square and the string parable; and, wise Heraclitus, who right now is so important, Heraclitus shared the understanding that change is constant. 

Change is constant. Our culture has been destroyed. I don’t know where we will go –  if we survive. I hope some of us will, and, like a seed taken by the wind, I hope our culture will be reborn, revitalized and blossom once more. 

We are at the quay in Smyrna. The waters boil as though Poseidon is angry. Yet, he is prepared to carry as many of us as possible to safety. The fires are burning. The wind is hungry. One lashes at the other, feeding on the fear and destruction, until there is only one, with only one outcome, death.

The fires are closer now. The smell of burning flesh is overwhelming. Our humanity is disappearing before my eyes. I write faster so that perhaps our story will reach another shore, another day to tell the world who we are, our legacy.

I close now. My time is near to either die or survive. I wrap this story in a bottle and hope you understand that it is not one individual who does evil, it is many. To ward off this evil, one must make noise and take action to protect the higher knowledge and achievements of every culture and society.

I feel the fire now. The soldiers are shooting those who attempt to seek shelter in the water, to calm their burns or even those seeking to break free of the quay for surely there is cool air not far away. 

We will survive. This I do know. We will live another day to share our story, our culture, our ancestors – the Ancients. 

An Ottoman Greek*

The Greek Genocide

The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) officially recognized the Ottoman Greek Genocide as genocide in 2007, almost one hundred years later.

According to The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center (AMPHRC), between the years of 1914 to 1923, over 2.5 million people of lost their lives in the first genocide of the 20th century – the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks.

“By 1923, out of approximately 2 million Greeks living in Asia Minor at the beginning of World War I, more than 700,000 perished, and over 1.1 million were uprooted prior and during the forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey.”

The Greek Christians who survived, almost 1.5 million people, were relocated to mainland Greece or became refugees in Europe, Russia and the United States.

George Mavropoulos, founder of The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center,Inc. (AMPHRC) (www.hellenicresearchcenter.org) has convened scholars of Jewish, Armenian and Greek history to research and present their scholarly work on a regular basis on the Greek genocide.

Included in the public dialogue are Ronald Levitsky, an award winning teacher and the recipient of the 2006 Aharonian Award from the Genocide Education Project; Dr. Constantine Hatzidimitriou, Queens Director of School Improvement for New York City’s Department of Education and an Associate Professor at St. John’s University; and Dan Georgakas, Director of Greek Studies Project, Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Queens College, City University of New York. A significant contributor who has since passed is the late Dr. Harry J. Psomiades, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Queens College and the Graduate School of the City Univeristy of New York.

AMPHRC now has two teaching guides available: The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks 1914- 1923 and Hellenism of Asia Minor and Pontos. Each is presenting history documented through countless personal testimonies, diplomatic notes, archived letters and photographs that are providing a window into what is known quietly as the Great Catastrophe or the Greek genocide for scholars.
The teaching guides are appropriate for elementary school students to adults answering the questions:
Who were the Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos?
What is the legal definition of genocide?
What is a “white death”?
How did the Greek culture survive the centuries?
How did the Greeks become victims of genocide?
Who perpetrated such violence?
Who are the elders shining a light on man’s inhumanity to man?
How could such a tragedy be forgotten? 

Included in the AMPHRC teaching guide The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks 1914-1923 is a poem, by an unknown author, who wrote of Smyrna, one of the most cosmopolitan multicultural dynamic cities in the Ottoman Empire before and after its destruction.

“The Martyred City”

Glory and Queen of the Island Sea

Was Smyrna, the beautiful city,

and fairest pearl of the Orient she – 

O Smyrna, the beautiful city!

Heiress of countless storied ages,

Mother of poets, saints and sages,

Was Smyrna, the beautiful city!

Silent and dead are church bell ringers

Of Smyrna, the Christian City,

The music silent and dead the singers

Of Smyrna, the happy city;

And her maidens, pearls of the Island seas

Are gone from the marble palaces

Of Smyrna, enchanting city!

She is dead and rots by the Orient’s gate,

Does Smyrna, the murdered city,

Her artisans gone, her streets desolate – 

O Smyrna, the murdered city!

Her children made orphans, widows her wives

While under her stones the foul rate thrives – 

O Smyrna, the murdered city!

(From The Blight of Asia, by George Horton, Consul-General of the United States, 1926)

The teaching guide then instructs the students to write their own poem after reading the historical material. The power of storytelling illuminates human accomplishments and human suffering while demonstrating through the creative process how to live, despite the horrors.

Coinciding at the same time, there is a newly released exceptionally well done documentary film of the disappearance of the people and cosmopolitan culture of Smyrna by filmmaker Maria Iliou, Smyrna: The Desruction of a Cosmopolitan City 1900 – 1922 that is now available on DVD.

As one explores this rarely mentioned history, there are remarkable tales of resilience and success among the Greek diaspora of Asia Minor and Pontos.
A son of a shipping entrepreneur of Smyrna, later a refugee in Greece became one of the wealthiest shipping magnates in the world and later married the iconic American Jacqueline Kennedy. Who is this man? Aristotle Onassis.
Mavropoulos hopes that people will study and learn the history and contributions of the Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos – especially their Ionian dialect that was preserved; their resilience after years of hardships and slavery; and, even the dances, connecting the villagers together.
When asked to explain the meaning of the dance, Mavropoulos says,
“They danced the ancient ways in the circles, under the Turkish occupation. They danced in small circles, protecting each other. Everybody is together, close and together. They do the same thing. It goes back to the birth of Zeus.”
Marvropoulos explained the story of the birth of Zeus. Kronus, the father of Zeus, knew that his wife Rhea was to give birth and knew that the child would one day take over the leadership. Kronus wanted to kill Zeus. So Rhea went to Crete to escape. The Ancients knew they needed to hide the cries of childbirth to protect the baby from the omniscient Kronus. So they danced a war like dance and made so much noise with their spears, arrows and shields that Kronus couldn’t hear the cries during the birth of Zeus.

Mentioning the importance of dance, brings a new perspective to the dance of Zorba, the Greek.

One person, one protector of a past culture, legacy, language or truth killed unjustly is one too many. Trying to erase an entire culture, a faith, an ethnic community by wholesale massacres, starvation, or forced migration is beyond human comprehension.
Yet, it is the spirit of the contributions made by humans with both good and evil intentions to civilization that are impossible to erase. Perhaps the story of Kronus and Zeus leaves behind an important message.

The Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos are beginning to tell their story, thanks to their resilience, drive to survive, and finally, peace of mind to be able speak of the tragedy of the Greek genocide.

In life there are constant hardships, threats, and, injustices. Yet, there are just as many legacies of human accomplishments and justice to show how to overcome the hardships and be courageous enough to shine light on the truth and in the end, like the Ancients, dance.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, DC. Copyright protected.
All rights reserved.

For more information on AMPHRC and to order the teaching guides, please visit their web site at www.hellenicresearchcenter.org.

Note: The art work on the cover of the teaching guide The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks 1914-1923 is done by Efi Mavridis of Kozani, Greece. The painting is an illustration of the stories her grandparents, survivors of the Pontian Greek genocide, shared with her when she was a child.

* One of the assignments in the teaching guide is to write a poem. A Message in the Bottle, One Hundred Years Later is a fictional story in response to reading historical records of the Greek genocide and especially the destruction of Smyrna. Readers are welcome to share their poetry and prose below after reading about the Greek genocide.

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An Overview of the Greek Genocide

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The Greek Genocide (or Ottoman Greek Genocide) refers to the systematic extermination of the native Greek subjects of the Ottoman Empire before, during and after World War I (1914-1923). It was instigated by successive governments of the Ottoman Empire; the Committee of Union and Progress Party (C.U.P), and the Turkish Nationalist Movement of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.  It included massacres, forced deportations and death marches, summary expulsions, boycotts, rape, forced conversion to Islam, conscription into labor battalions, arbitrary executions, and destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical and religious monuments. According to various sources, approximately 1 million Ottoman Greeks perished during this period.

The first phase of the Greek Genocide commenced in the Spring of 1914 in Eastern Thrace and western Anatolia when Turks were ordered to boycott Greek businesses. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks from these regions were also deported during this period. With the outbreak of the Great War in July of 1914, all Ottoman Greek men aged between 21-45 years were conscripted into forced labor (or concentration) camps. Most of these men were to perish under appalling conditions after being forced to work around the clock with little food or water. These camps also served as a means to break up and disarm Greek communities, thus bringing about their eventual destruction.

In 1915, under the guidance of German military personnel, the C.U.P ordered the deportation of Greek communities in the Dardanelles and Gallipolli region under the pretext of military necessity. These Greeks were not permitted to take anything with them. Goods in their shops were later sold by Ottoman authorities. Entire communities living along the western coastline of Asia Minor were deported to the interior or to Muslim villages where they were forced to choose between Islam or death. Homes in villages that were not burnt were seized by free-booters of neighboring communities. In some instances, Greeks were forced to sign declarations saying they were leaving of their own free will. In most cases, before deportations took place, Ottoman gendarmes (police) and çetes (armed irregulars) seized money and valuables from communities, committed massacres and burnt churches and schools. In the region of Pontus, Greek communities were deported during the peak of winter when fatalities could be at their highest. Stories of lethal injections, bodies being towed out to sea and dumped, as well as mass killings of Greeks in churches was also witnessed.

According to the Chairman of the Greek Relief Committee Frank W. Jackson, by 1917 some 700,000-800,000 Greeks were deported mainly from the coastal regions to the interior of Turkey. The death toll from these deportations was high. With the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in WW1, prominent leaders of the C.U.P Party were given death sentences during Ottoman Courts-Martial for their role in organizing the massacre of Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians during the war. But the post-war formation of the Turkish Nationalist movement under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk interrupted the proceedings to bring the perpetrators to justice. Instead, the Kemalist Nationalists continued the C.U.P policy of massacring and deporting Greeks, and resulted in the burning of the city of Smyrna (today Izmir) to the ground and the expulsion of all remaining Greeks from Turkey. All able-bodied Greek males were refused exit from Turkey and were sent to the interior where most perished in slave labor camps or were massacred.


The following are the days of remembrance for the Greek Genocide. Greeks have preferred to remember the genocide based on region:  September 14 (Asia Minor as a whole), May 19 (Pontus region) and April 6 (Eastern Thrace).

Source: Greek Genocide Resource Center

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The 95th Anniversary of the Destruction of Greeks and Armenians in Smyrna

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Tehmine Martoyan is lecturer at the University of Economy and Law (Yerevan, Armenia). She is also the president of Lazaryan Institute scientific and educational NGO.

Martoyan is the author of books and articles on the Armenians in Safavid Iran, and she has participated in international conferences and meetings in Armenia and abroad. She also translated into Armenian the book by Theofanis Malkidis titled The Greek Genocide: Thrace, Asia Minor, Pontus.

She has made two films dedicated to the Greek and Armenian populations in Smyrna. Her forthcoming book is titled Psychological and Political Causes of Annihilation of the Armenians and the Greeks in Smyrna.

This interview was conducted by email during early Sept. 2017.


George Shirinian: You contributed the chapter in Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, 1913-1923, titled “The Destruction of Smyrna in 1922: An Armenian and Greek Shared Tragedy.” Amid all the chaos and destruction at that time, why is the fate of this one city noteworthy today?

Tehmine Martoyan: First of all, I would like to express gratitude for the opportunity to commemorate with the readers of this journal the 95th anniversary of the destruction of Smyrna, which began on Sept. 13, 1922. Smyrna was a major international commercial center, and it was also known as a tolerant and cultured place, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims had lived together in harmony and prosperity, before the advent of extreme Turkish nationalism.

The Allied Powers suspected Ataturk was going to take reprisals on the city for the conduct of the Greek army during the Greco-Turkish war, and warned him against doing so, but he ignored their warning and got away with it. It was an unnecessary act of wanton destruction that affected only the Christian sections of the city. What happened is very well documented, by eyewitness accounts, photographs, and even video.

The extermination of the Armenian and Greek people of Smyrna and the destruction of the Christian districts of the city made a great impression on contemporaries and continues to attract the attention of researchers today. Entire books are still being written about it.

G.S.: Explain briefly what happened.

T.M.: One author has described the event this way: “What happened over the two weeks that followed must surely rank as one of the most compelling human dramas of the twentieth century. Innocent civilians—men, women, and children from scores of different nationalities—were caught up in a humanitarian disaster on a scale that the world had never before seen.” The Armenians and the Greeks of Smyrna were systematically robbed, murdered, and abducted.

According to the account of Edward Bierstadt—secretary for Near East Relief at the time—around 100,000 people fell victim to the slaughter, and 160,000 were driven away to the farthest parts of Turkey. More than 50,000 houses, 24 churches, and 28 schools, banks, consulates, and hospitals were burned. Turkish soldiers deliberately led the fire down the Greek and European sections of Smyrna by soaking the streets with petroleum or other highly flammable matter.

The people were massed along the quay, and with the fire and intense heat behind them; they had nowhere to go but jump into the Mediterranean. There were ships from several countries just outside the harbor, but most had orders not to intervene. Greek ships took refugees to the island of Mytilene and elsewhere, and a Japanese ship was noteworthy for joining the effort from the start, rescuing survivors from the sea.

The American navy helped only when the courageous Asa Jennings, a devout minister from upstate New York who had only recently arrived to take up duties as secretary to the local YMCA, rowed out to them and personally demanded that they rescue survivors. He was assisted by an equally courageous and strong-willed naval officer, Lt. Commander Halsey Powell. Together, they helped rescue almost a million refugees.

So, beyond the story of the destruction of the city and its non-Muslim population, there is the story of courageous rescuers who defied orders not to intervene.

G.S.: Why did Ataturk destroy this jewel of a city?

T.M.: To a certain extent it was to punish the Greeks for the Greco-Turkish War, even though the Smyrniotes were Ottoman citizens. But Smyrna was also a symbol of Christian prosperity, a major center of European trade, and an example peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims—all things the new Turkish nationalist movement was vehemently against. Ataturk even declared that neither American colleges nor any Christian institutions would operate in Smyrna in future. He wanted to build a new “Turkey for the Turks” out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

G.S.: Is there any parallel in history for such a destruction of a single city?

T.M.: The massacre in the Chinese city of Nanking (Nanjing) by the Japanese in 1937-38 comes to mind. It is interesting to note that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ruled that the murder of some 8,000 Muslim Bosnians in Srebrenica in 1995 was “genocidal.” One could say the same for the murder of 100,000 Armenians and Greeks of Smyrna.

G.S.: You mentioned that this history is particularly well documented. Are new sources still coming to light?

It is true that this history is particularly well documented, and there are new sources still coming to light. I am now researching the entire press of the period at the National Archives of Armenia and Fundamental library of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. I can also add that I had the opportunity to incorporate in my chapter a previously unpublished letter of the American eyewitness, Bertha Morley, from the Zoryan Institute archives.

G.S.: You have done extensive work on the Greek Genocide. Why do you, as an Armenian historian, devote so much attention to the Greek experience?

T.M.: Historical-cultural ties between the Armenians and the Greeks from ancient times are evident in their religion, culture, traditions, lifestyle, legends, etc. These two nations have always had strong ties, both emotionally and historically, due to religious and cultural roots.

Studying the experiences of these two peoples in parallel, I use content analysis as a research method to show how both the Armenians and the Greeks suffered from genocide that was planned and committed by the same state. As the subtitle of my chapter states, unfortunately the Armenians and Greeks have a shared tragedy.

Originally published on 2017-09-13

Source: The Armenian Weekly

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938): The Perpetrator of the Greek Genocide

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Mustafa Kemal ‘Atatürk’ was the consummator of the Greek Genocide. He was born in 1881 at Salonica in Greece (then part of the Ottoman Empire).  He attended the Ottoman Military School in Constantinople and graduated in 1905. Around 1908 he joined the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP). Kemal was an officer of the Turkish Army and founded the Turkish Nationalist Movement (the Kemalists) by regrouping the Ottoman Army, Turkish irregulars and the remnants of the CUP. He continued the genocidal policy engineered by the Committee for Union and Progress.

Ottoman Greeks were persecuted throughout Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace under the Kemalists. Between the period 1919-1923 reports from the media, accounts from missionaries, foreign diplomats and survivor testimonies, all describe an organized plan of extermination of Greeks.

On the 6th of August 1921, the Maryborough Chronicle of Queensland published an article titled “Reign of Terror by Kemalists–Massacre of Greek Subjects” referring to the Kemalists rounding up Greeks in Trebizond and putting them to death.1

On the 23rd of March 1921, The Examiner of Launceston reported: “Concentration of Kemalists–Terrible Massacres of Christians”, referring to a terrible 3-day massacre of Christians in Caesarea in the interior of Turkey.2

On the 14th of June 1922, a New York Times article subtitled “Kemalist Troops Employed in Systematic Campaign of Murder and Starvation” reported on the massacre of 15,000 Greek men, women and children in the district of Rhodopolis. The report also described how the Greeks from the town of Geronta (today Didyma) had been deported to the interior toward Mugla, a distance some 132km away.  Dr Dalalio, an Italian physician of the Red Cross, personally witnessed atrocities by Kemalists in the town of Macri (today Fethiye) with his own eyes and the deportation of all males from the ages of 12-85 to Funjah and Malatia.3

The Armenian-Greek Section was a series of 87 meetings conducted by the British High Commission in Constantinople during the period February 1919 to November 1922. On the meeting of the 29th of September  1920, it was reported that a large band of Nationalists led by a certain Djemal, surrounded the Greek quarter of Iznik (Nicaea), seized the entire population numbering about 600, and afterwards massacred them. No survivors had been found.4

On the 5th of July 1920, 120 Kemalists and 600 Turks surrounded and pillaged the four villages at Foundouklia near Ada Bazar. They collected 7800 sheep and all cattle belonging to Christians. The men were shut up in a church and the women exiled. The men were then ordered to come out in fives and were shot. Of the population of 3400, 400 men were murdered and 30 of the women were exiled. The rest of the population fled to the mountains.5

Apart from ravaging Greeks in villages and towns en masse, Mustafa Kemal also established special tribunals or courts of independence to sentence to death hundreds of influential Greeks – usually by hanging – including publishers, mayors of towns and villages and previous members of the Ottoman government. Through these courts, Greek intellectuals and the political elite throughout Asia Minor were killed in a matter of months. In the Pontus region alone 60 people per day were hanged during the month of September 1921.6

Historian Dr. Mark Levene, in his journal titled “Creating a modern zone of genocide” stated that:

…the CUP committed genocide in order to transform the residual empire into a streamlined, homogeneous  nation-state on the European model. Once the CUP had started the process, the Kemalists, freed from any direct European pressure by the 1918 defeat and capitulation of Germany, went on to complete it, achieving what nobody believed possible: the reassertion of independence and sovereignty via an exterminatory war of national liberation.7

Mark Hopkins Ward, an American physician was working at the American Hospital in Harpoot during the deportation of Greeks in Asia Minor.  He was expelled by the Turks for keeping notes on the deportations. Ward described the deportations by saying:

The Kemalists pursued with vigor their considered and systematic campaign for the extermination of the Greek minority in Asia Minor, which was attended with the same incredible brutality as marked the Turkish massacre of 1,000,000 Armenians in the early part of the Great War.” 8

One of the final acts of the Greek Genocide was the burning of Smyrna (today Izmir) by Kemalist troops in September of 1922. At the conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War a victorious Kemal entered Smyrna on September 10. The following day Turkish soldiers and civilians began a systematic orgy of rape, looting and murder of the Armenians and Greeks of the city. On the 13th of September a fire was lit by Turkish troops which eventually burnt to the ground the Armenian, Greek and European quarters of the city; the Turkish quarter was spared.  Kemal then issued a 2 week ultimatum for all Greeks and Armenians to leave otherwise they would be deported to the interior. All men between the ages of 18-45 were considered prisoners of war and were immediately sent into the interior, most of them to perish. In his memoires, Winston Churchill (1874-1965) wrote “...Mustapha Kemal’s Army .. celebrated their triumph by the burning of Smyrna to ashes and by a vast massacre of its Christian population…9

One of the world’s most despised dictators, and the perpetrator of the 20th century’s most notorious genocides Adolf Hitler, often referred to Turkey as being a role model for him and Atatürk as being his ‘star in the darkness.’ Hitler expressed admiration for Atatürk and repeatedly stressed that he was Atatürk‘s student.  In 1938 during an interview with Turkish politicians, Adolf Hitler said, “…Atatürk was a teacher; Mussolini was his first and I his second student.10  Hitler also considered Atatürk‘s Turkish Nationalist movement as being a ‘shining star’ for him.

In an interview with Swiss journalist Emile Hilderbrand, published on Sunday 1 August 1926 in the Los Angeles Examiner under the title “Kemal Promises More Hangings of Political Antagonists in Turkey“, Mustafa Kemal acknowledged the Turkish massacre of the Christian element but attributed responsibility to the Committee for Union and Progress:

“These left-overs from the former Young Turkey Party, who should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse, from their homes and massacred, have been restive under the Republican rule.”11

Today, Kemal holds the title “Atatürk” meaning Father of Turks and is regarded as a national hero in Turkey where it is illegal to insult his memory. However, western academics have widely questioned the ‘Turkish’ view of Kemal’s role in the late Ottoman Empire. For example, in a speech at the European Parliament in Brussels on 13 November 2008, Dr. Ronald Münch from the University of Bremen pointed out that if Atatürk were alive today, he would have to stand trial for war crimes.12

He died in Istanbul in 1938.


1.  1921 ‘GRAECO-TURKISH HOSTILITIES.’, Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (Qld. : 1860 – 1947), 6 August, p. 7, viewed 5 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151143251
2.  1921 ‘Concentration of Kemalists.’, Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), 23 March, p. 5 Edition: DAILY, viewed 5 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51116687
3.   Turks Massacre 15,000 More Greeks, The New York Times, 14 June 1922. Viewed 5 May 2015,  http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D0DE4DE1539EF3ABC4C52DFB0668389639EDE
4.   British Reports on Ethnic Cleansing in Anatolia 1919-1922: The Armenian-Greek Section, Vartkes Yeghiayan. Centre of Armenian Remembrance, page 172.
5.   ibid page 157.
6.   The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks, Tessa Hofmann. Caratzas Publishers, pp74-75.
7.   Creating a modern ‘zone of genocide’: The impact of nation- and state-formation on Eastern Anatolia, 1878-1923, Mark, Levene.  Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 12, Issue 3, Winter 1998, p. 415.
8.   Nations of War Urged to Declare Turkey an Outlaw, Christian Science Monitor, 21 June 1922.
9.   Churchill, Winston, The Aftermath, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929, p. 444.
10.  Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination, Stefan Ihrig.  Belknap Press, 2014. Page 116.
11.  Los Angeles Examiner, Kemal Promises More Hangings of Political Antagonists in Turkey. 1 August 1926.
12.  German faces probe for insult, Huriyert Daily News,viewed 5May 2015, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10484629.asp

Source: Greek Genocide Resource Center

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Israeli Historians’ New Study Claims 30-year Genocide against Anatolian Christians

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The Christian population that had made up one fifth of the Ottoman Empire’s population was wiped out in waves of violence by successive Ottoman and Turkish republican governments that left Christians a tiny minority in Anatolia, two Israeli scholars have said in a new study.

The controversy over the killings of the Armenian Christian minority living in Anatolia during the last days of the Ottoman Empire is already well known – while the majority of the scholarly community and many international states recognise the killings as genocide, Turkey accepts that killings took place but rejects they constituted a genocide.

Israeli historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi’s new book, “The Thirty Year Genocide,” makes the even more striking claim that genocide was committed over a thirty year period between 1894 and 1924 against not only the Armenians but against all Ottoman Christian communities.

In an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the book, Morris quoted the book as saying that between 1.5 million and 2.5 million Christians were killed during this period, basing this figure on the work of Turkish, Armenian and Greek statisticians.

“Our conclusion that between 1.5 and 2.5 million Christians were murdered, from 1894 to 1924, is a cautious estimate,” Morris said.

“(The) killing of two million Christians was effected through the calculated exhortation of the Turks to create a pure Muslim nation,” the book’s blurb on the website of its publisher, Harvard University Press, reads.

Morris says the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was responsible for “the liquidation of the last Armenians who remained in Turkey,” as well as hundreds of thousands of Greek and Assyrian Christians.

“Although Ataturk is considered to have been anti-Islamic, he mobilized Islam to execute that scheme, and he is the one who did away with the remnants of the Christian communities in Turkey. Nonetheless, the charge of ethnic cleansing never stuck to him,” Morris said.

The Israeli historian is no stranger to controversy surrounding investigations of historic crimes, and in his home country he has faced criticism from all sides for his stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Morris became renowned as a self-styled “new historian” for his revisionist studies of the birth of the state of Israel, in which he found evidence of rapes, massacres and forced displacements committed by Jewish forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict that had been ignored in the official Israeli version of events.

However, the criticism Morris received from conservative Israelis has been matched by outraged liberals since the historian gave an incendiary interview in 2004, in which he said the Israeli forces’ actions had been justified despite the massacres and that the situation would be preferable today if they had fully cleared the land of Arab Muslims.

“I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all,” Morris told Haaretz in 2004.

“If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleaned the whole country – the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion – rather than a partial one – he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations,” he said.

Originally published on 2019-01-17

Source: Ahval News

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An Interview with Dr. Jacobs on Genocide in the Ottoman Empire

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Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs holds the Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies and is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa. An ordained rabbi, Professor Jacobs is a specialist on the Holocaust and Genocide, Biblical Studies, Jewish-Jewish Christian Relations, and is one of the foremost authorities on Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), who coined the term “genocide” and devoted his life to the enactment of an international law on the punishment and prevention of genocide.

Among his numerous publications, Prof. Jacobs is the author of the chapter entitled, “Lemkin on Three Genocides: Comparing His Writings on the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides,” in the recently published book, Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks 1913-1923, edited by George N. Shirinian (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017, published in association with The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center and The Zoryan Institute).

George N. Shirinian: Your unique contribution to this new book is a comparative study of the writings of Raphael Lemkin on Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides. Who was Raphael Lemkin, and why is what he wrote important?

Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs: Lemkin (1900-1959) was a Polish Jewish lawyer who immigrated to the United States after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. His initial concerns during his teenage years with the gross inhumanity of groups of people in power to groups having little or none led him to a concern with international criminal law. After arriving in the US, he taught law at both Duke University and Yale University before joining the US Board of Economic Advisors in Washington, DC, and would later serve as an advisor to Justice post-WWII International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg, Germany, dealing with Nazi war criminals. He would devote the remaining thirteen years of his life to seeking the ultimately-successful ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by the United Nations in December 1948. His coinage of the word “genocide” appeared in his magnum opus Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), specifically Chapter 9 (pgs. 79-94). It is somewhat ironic that this small chapter in this massive volume of almost 650 pages became his life’s work.

His voluminous writings, and even a television appearance, on the subject of genocide brought the concept of mega-group murder to the attention of the world community of scholars, intellectuals, and the wider public, and began a debate about its various permutations and configurations which continues to this day. All this affirms him as the “Father of Genocide Studies,” an outgrowth and expansion of the field of Holocaust Studies.

GS: Lemkin wrote at a time when the study of the Ottoman destruction of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks was in its infancy. What sources did he use? Did he say anything that historians today find useful?

SLJ: In addition to his 1944 text, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Lemkin also intended to publish a three-volume History of Genocide (Antiquity, Middle Ages, Modern Times), as well as a monograph, Introduction to the Study of Genocide. Neither was completed nor published. In 2012, it was my good fortune to edit, introduce, and bring to publication both sets of texts, even though incomplete, in one volume, titled Lemkin on Genocide (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books). As to his use of sources, it is important to keep in mind that Lemkin was a master of many languages—Polish, Russian, French, German, Hebrew, Yiddish (and others!)—and was thus able to draw upon numerous publications in those languages which addressed the thirteen genocides included. Most of the sixty-three genocides reflected in his Outline were never addressed. An in depth examination of more than 20,000 pages of his archives only barely hints at these other texts. Lemkin left a substantial, untitled, 120-page monograph on the Armenian Genocide, along with a six-page summary, and the monograph has been published (Raphael Lemkin’s Dossier on the Armenian Genocide, Glendale, CA: Center for Armenian Remembrance, 2008). I have written several articles about Lemkin and the Armenian Genocide. As regards the Assyrian Genocide, not one but two chapters—Chapter 2 (“Assyrian Invasions”) of Volume I, and Chapter 2 (“Assyrians in Iraq”) of Volume III—are included among his papers. The latter constitutes a forty-two-page chapter in Lemkin on Genocide. Most interesting of all, however, with regard to the Greek Genocide, five chapters are presented in the outline, more than any other case. These are titled, “Genocide in Ancient Greece”, “Genocide against the Greeks,” “Greeks under Franks, “Greeks in Exile from Turkish Occupation,” and “Genocide by the Greeks against the Turks.” Unfortunately, none of these is found among his papers. Instead, what we do have are a large text of so-called “Background” of fifty-seven pages and a later edited and slightly smaller version (fifty-five pages) entitled “Greeks in the Ottoman Empire,” the title of which is not listed in the outline. Three additional chapters in Volume III—“Bulgaria under the Turks,” “Genocide by the Janissaries,” and “Smyrna”—would have proven most helpful regarding his thinking about both the Ottoman Empire and the post-Ottoman Kemalist regime. But, alas, they, too, are not found among his papers, and, in all likelihood, were never written. One chapter that does exist is on the massacre of Greeks in Chios during the Greek War of Independence. It constitutes six pages in Lemkin on Genocide. I have also written separately on Lemkin and the Genocide of the Greeks.

To historians today, not only are his bibliographies of value in visiting the various genocides he examined, but his historical summaries, comments and critiques regarding victims, perpetrators, and bystanders enlarge the work beyond simply that of reporting the past. Moreover, Lemkin broadened his concerns to include the arenas of morality, ethics, and practical and political responsibilities, with which we continually wrestle today.

GS: Your new article deals with Lemkin’s writings on three cases of genocide. What benefits are there, generally, to taking a comparative approach?

SLJ: In principle, comparative work begins with an open mind: bringing together two or more seemingly disparate cases, events, or people and looking not only for similarities but differences as well, and then expanding the search to include other scenarios as well. What can, ideally, result is a broadened perspective and understanding regarding those items under examination, and, further, their possible applicability as additional case studies are brought into the conversation. It is important to keep in mind that comparison is not the only tool that scholars bring to the table. Vetting historical documents, knowledge of specific languages and how they were understood at the time of their use, interviewing witnesses to contemporary events (and vetting the accuracy of their memories) are also used to ascertain the most accurate and complete pictures of those things under investigation. All tools used by various disciplines in the “human sciences” (history, literature, psychology, sociology, religious & Judaic studies, etc.) have, over the generations, proven their value in examining the past, and even going so far as to proving their applicability to both the present and the future.

GS: In this specific case of Raphael Lemkin, what has a comparative approach revealed?

SLJ: Strictly speaking, Lemkin was not a comparativist. He was of that “first” generation of historians, writers, and thinkers who saw as his task to “get the word out,” that is to say, present the evidence of those cases of genocide that were of importance to him—together with his own commentaries—and then let others expand the cases and draw further conclusions. His “mission,” if you will, was to get the world—at least the Western world—to view group murder in a whole new way, based on the reality that genocide has, historically, always been part of the human journey. His objective was to make others realize that it was not only the present moment (World War II and the Nazi murder of the Jews and its initial aftermath) that were genocidal, but, throughout human history, human power groups have engaged in genocide against non-power groups for a whole host of reasons (political, social, religious, economic, etc.).In doing so, Lemkin opened the door to this “darker side” of human history, and for that he is to be applauded. Additionally, it must also be noted that Lemkin was not a classically-trained historian, but, rather, a lawyer who saw his stage as that of international law. Scholar that he was, he filtered his work through the lens of its practical applicability, understanding law and its prosecutorial opportunities as the appropriate arena where past crimes could be evaluated, current perpetrators could be punished, and, ideally, future cases of genocide could be prevented.

GS: Lemkin is famous for coining the word “genocide” and providing the first comprehensive definition of it. Did he doubt that the term applies equally to the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks?

SLJ: Most assuredly he understood these three cases as genocide. Today, there are three sources of denial that they are genocide. One originates with the inheritor of the perpetrator Ottoman state, which seeks to evade any responsibility for past crimes, and those who support it for political or economic reasons. The second originates from what sociologists call “the competition of victims.” This refers to the tendency of some victim groups to want to make their genocide seem more important by denying status to others. The third originates with some genocide scholars, who are so caught up in narrowly defining what genocide is, that they lose sight of the impact on the survivors and their descendants. It is part of the work of scholars to define and categorize the events they/we study, and to expand and/or contract these same definitions, further refining similarities and differences, as they/we apply them to specific case studies. In the process, however, we must never lose sight of our humanity.

GS: Is there any reason for anyone today to doubt that the term applies equally to the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks?

SLJ: Not at all. My contribution to Genocide in the Ottoman Empire was to examine in depth, perhaps for the first time, Lemkin’s writings on these three genocides—Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek—what he wrote, what he saw as their similarities and differences, and fault not only the Turks but the Germans and British, as well, as uneven partners in these crimes. Certainly, Lemkin saw parallels between genocide in the Ottoman Empire and that in Nazi Germany.

More information is available from the Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center:

Tel: 312-964-5120


Originally published on 2017-07-12

About the author: George N. Shirinian is Executive Director of the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, a division of the Zoryan Institute. His publications include Studies in Comparative Genocide and The Asia Minor Catastrophe and the Ottoman Greek Genocide: Essays on Asia Minor, Pontos, and Eastern Thrace, 1913–1923.

Source: The National Herald

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International Systems of States and Global Security Models

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The fundamental aim of the text below is to deal with the concept and models of global security as one of the crucial topics of global political studies. We have to keep in mind that a term and notion of security usually imply a kind of sense of protection and safety from different possible harms coming from „outside“. Therefore, it can be generally acceptable and understandable that the states want to protect their own territories by expanding great resources in making their territorial safe. Security topics are of very different kind, ranging from the causes of conflict between states to deterioration in the global climate or women’s rights in global politics. The question of Security Studies as an academic discipline within the scope of Global Politics has been the subject of much debate and one of the most prosperous ways to deal with global security is firstly to analyze different standpoints which are existing within the research discipline. The article, in one word, will try to provide the readers with a basic approaches in the academic field of Security Studies with some necessary personal remarks by the author.

The Conception of a System

The conception of international systems of states is crucial as an explanatory mechanism of both global politics and global security models. However, in order to understand international systems of states firstly the very notion of a system itself has to be clarified and defined. In this context, it can be said that „a system is an assemblage of units, objects, or parts united by some form of regular interaction“.[1] Any system is necessarily constructed of different members on micro and macro levels which are interacting between themselves from horizontal and vertical perspectives. The member units of a system are of different size, capacity, potentials, wealth, might and therefore of different positions regarding the decision making procedure and especially power.

For the reason that member units of a system are constantly interacting with each other either from horizontal or vertical perspectives, it is quite natural that in the case of a change in one unit the reactions to such change are expected by other units. The most expressed examples are arms race, seeking for balance of power, making political-military blocs with other units or even in the most drastic cases, committing aggression on the member unit. Any system with its member units has a tendency to regulate the relations between them and to try to respond by different means if those relations are changed at the expense of the hegemonic unit(s) of the system. It can exist at the same time two or more systems which are separated from each other by regulating boundaries, but different systems very often collaborate across the boundaries, for instance, in the areas of economy, knowledge or technology exchange as it was the case during the Cold War era (1949−1989). Finally, one system can break down for any reason what means that necessary changes within the system were not achieved in order to save it (for instance, the case of the Warsaw Pact in 1990−1991). Subsequently, instead of the old system a new system can emerge or the member units of the old system can be simply absorbed by another one as it happened, for example, with the majority of the Central and South-East European states after the Cold War.

International Systems of States

It is very difficult to fix the exact date when global system of international relations (IR) and therefore global security models started to work for the very reason that the process of globalization occured over many centuries.[2] However, the modern European system of IR can be traced back up to the time after the 1648 Westphalian Peace Treaty, while the process of globalization of international systems of inter-states relations started to work from the first half of the 19th century.

International systems of inter-states relations and global security became after the WWII investigated as academic subjects within the framework of World Systems Theory (WST) which recognizes that the states are historically playing the fundamental role in IR and they will do that in the future as well as but the systems of relations of (nation)-states have to be understood and put in the context of global unity rather than conflicts besed on realizations of different national interests. What the theoreticians of WST suggest is that the most meaningful system of global security has to be based on the world system but not on nation-states system. Therefore, they believe that international cooperation and order will replace international conflicts and anarchy. However, bihind WST is basically hidden a system of Capitalist World-Economy (CWE) which is advocating ideology of globalization as a new form of the Western global imperialism based on the international division of labor. Thus, according to CWE, the whole world is divided into three labor and economic zones: the core-states (the Western developed mature economies); the periphery-states (mainly ex-colonies from Africa with still underdeveloped economies); and the semiperiphery-states (mainly East-European ex-socialist states and Middle-East oil-riched states with rising economies and growing infrastructure). The essence of WST/CWE is that a globalization has to function in full benefit of the core-states which are fully exploiting the periphery-states with a semiperifery states as a buffer between core and periphery segments of the world economy which are partially exploited by the core-states (by financial and economic means). In one word, WST/CWE is trying to legitimate existence and functioning of global Western capitalism and its exploitation of the rest of the world by promulgation of globalization ideology.[3] However, the liberal ideology of globalization is advocating in reality the global process of (pervasive) American Westernization from all points of view – from cultural, economic or political to the issues of values, tradition and customs.[4]

Historically, there were three fundamental types of international systems or relations between the states as the crucial actors in global politics even today: 1. Independent; 2. Hegemonic; and 3. Imperial.[5]

The Independent State System (ISS) is composed by the states as political actors and entities in which each of them claim to be independent that means both autonomous and sovereign. The fundamental feature of such state, at least from the very theoretical point of view, is that it has right and possibility to make its own foreign and domestic policies out of any influence or dependence from the outside. The ISS presupposes that the state, territory and its citizens are under full control and governance by the central state authority and that the state borders are inviolable from outside. In other words, any outside actor is not eligible to interfere into domestic affairs of the state which can be governed only by one „legitimate“ authority that is internationally recognized as such. An independent state has to be and autonomous that means (as it ment at the time of the ancient Greeks wherefrom the term comes) that the legitimate state authorities are adopting their own law and organizing the state activities, political and other types of life of the society according to it but not according to the imposed law, rules or values from the outside. States had to be equally treated and understood in regards to their claims to independence, autonomy and sovereignty regardless of the very practical fact that not all of them are of the same power, capabilities and might.[6]

The Hegemonic State System (HSS) is based on an idea of a hegemon and hegemony imposed by a hegemon in IR what means that one or more states (or other actors in politics) dominate the system of IR or/and regional or global politics. A hegemon is fixing the standards, values and the „rules of the game“ and having direct influence on the politics of the system’s members like, for instance, the US in the NATO’s bloc.

There are three possible types of HSS in global politics:

  1. Unipolar (or Single) hegemony, when a single state is dominant as it was the case with the US immediatelly after the WWII.
  2. Bipolar (or Dual) hegemony, when two dominant states exist in global politics as it was a case during the time of the Cold War (the USA and the USSR).
  3. Multipolar (or Collective) hegemony, when several or even many states dominate international relations like during the time after the Vienna Congress in 1815 (Russia, Austria, Great Britain, France and Prussia).

In practice, in any of these three HSS, lesser powerful actors may interact their powers, but they have to get a permit by the hegemon for such action. In HSS, usually domestic affairs of the states are left untouched by the hegemon, while their forreign affairs are strictly under the hegemonic controll.

The third type of IR, the Imperial State System (ImSS), existed from the ancient time (Assyria, Persia, Macedonia, Rome) and has been dominant in Europe, North Africa and Asia in the Middle Ages (the Frankish, Holy Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman or Habsburg empires). The essence of empire as a system is that it is composed of separate societal, ethnic, national, linguistic or/and confessional parts which are associated with regular interaction. However, within such multistructural imperial framework, it is a regular practice that one unit dominates over others by imposing over the rest its own political supremacy. The rest of the framework units have to accept such reality either by force or by interest while a political supremacy by one (ruling) part can be accepted by the others either implicitly or explicitly.[7] However, the question arises what is a difference between the Hegemonic and the Imperial State System as these two systems seems to be very similar if not even the same? Nevertheless, the fundamental difference is that a dominant unit of an empire is much more able to manage other subjects of the state system in comparison to HSS and especially to force them to work for the central authority (tax collection, recruiting people for the imperial army, appointing local political client leaders, etc.). The empires are usually created and enlarged by military conquest, but also they can be militarily destroyed from the outside or disappear due to the inner revolutions followed by civil wars.

Security Dilemma and Global Security Models

Security dilemma is based on an idea that security is a goal for which states struggle and compete between themselves. In principle, the states have to look for their own protection, especially in an „anarchical“ world system in which does not exist any supranational authority (like the UNO or OEBS, for instance)[8] to be capable to impose and/or to ensure regional or global order of IR. In practice, traditionally, the states in order to achieve their security goals were striving for more and more power for the reason to escape the impact of the power and foreign policy of other states especially of the neighbors as the European history clearly shows. However, such practice in turn makes the other states or other actors in IR to feel themselves more insecure and therefore it encourages them to be prepared for the worst scenario (conflict, aggression, war). As any state cannot ever feel entirely secure, the security competition among the states is endless process that is resulting in constant power rising. In other words, the security dilemma provokes a policy to firm security of a (nation)state which has a direct effect of threatening other states or actors in IR and, thereby, provoking power (usually military) counter actions. This endless process is in fact decreasing security for all states especially if we know that in many cases offensive (imperialistic) foreign policy is justified by national arming by „defensive“ weapons (the case of the US, for instance).

Global security as a concept has to be essentially founded on the idea of human (individual and group) security. However, IR in practice are based on the right to self-preservation of the states (i.e., of their political regimes and social elites in power). This idea is born by Englishman Thomas Hobbes (1588−1679) who argued that the right to self-preservation is founded on a natural law, requiring at the same time a social harmony between the citizens and state authority. Therefore, global security has to be founded primarily on the concept of (a nation)state security as the states are a natural form of political associations by the people and still are the fundamental actors in IR. The idea is that, presumably, both individual and civil rights of the citizen would be effectively secured only if the individual consented to the unchecked power of the state ruling elite. Therefore, it can be concluded that a modern philosophy of state totalitarian regimes is de facto born by Th. Hobbes.

Based on Th. Hobbes’ security philosophy, states will stress the necessity of social collectivisation for the protection of their security interests – it is how the concept of Collective Security (CS) was institutionalised as a mechanism that is used by the states in one bloc not to attack or proclaim the war to other states within the same bloc of coalition.[9] The member states of the same bloc accept the practice to use their collective armed forces and other necessary capabilities in order to help and defend a fellow member state in the case of aggression from outside. Such „defensive“ collective action has to continue until the time when „aggression“ is reversed. The essence of such concept, therefore, is a claim that an „unprovoked“, aggressive attack against any member of an organization is going to be considered as an attack on all member states of that organization. In practice, any really provoked attack of aggression can be easily claimed as „unprovoked“ as it happened, for instance, with the case of Pearl Harbour in 1941 as we know today that the US regime did everything to provoke „unprovoked“ Japanese action on December 7th. Nevertheless, while the concept of CS became the tool to count state aggression, it left very open question of how best to promote the individual or group (minority) security.[10]

It has to be clarified that the very idea of human security is not opposing concern of national (state) security’s requirement that state is in obligation to protect its own citizens from the aggression from the external world, i.e. by a foreign actor. The human security idea argues that the most important focus of security has to be put on individual not on the state, but the state has to protect all its citizens as the protection umbrella from the outside threat. This approach takes an individual-centred view of security that is a basis for national, regional and finally global security. In essence, protection of human (individual and group) rights is giving the main framework for the realization of the concept of human security that advocates „protection against threats to the lives and wellbeing of individuals in areas of basic need including freedom from violence by terrorists, criminals, or police, availability of food and water, a clean environment, energy security, and freedom from poverty and economic exploitation“.[11]

The chief purpose of collective security organization is to provide and maintain peaceful relations within the bloc which is composed of sovereign states but dominated by a hegemon. The concept of CS has declared as a main task to maintain peace between the key actors in IR that practically means the states, but in practice the real purpose of CS system is just to maintain peace and order among the members of the system, however not between the system and the rest of the world. The best example of CS system today is the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) which is not of any kind of global security bloc but rather only political-military alliance that is primarily serving the US national interests (global imperialism) across the globe. Nevertheless, the practical implementation of the concept is fluctuating between two models:

  1. Traditional and more realistic model of Balance of Power.
  2. A new post-Cold War and more utopian model of World Government.

The idea of CS is for sure very attractive for the academics as it seeks to bring about important benefits of a „global government“, but without altering the fundamental essence of the traditional state system of anarchy. The concept of CS from global perspective, therefore, means a „system of international security under which all states agree to take joint action against states that attack“.[12] Anyway, formally, the concept of CS wants to apply a set of legally established mechanisms which are designed to prevent possible aggression by any state against any other state at least without the formal permission by the UNO.[13]

Three Possible Models of Global Security

Different theorists explain in different ways by using different arguments the benefits or disadvantages of one of three possible global security models: Unipolar, Bipolar or Multipolar. Debates are basically going around the arguments which one of these three models is the most stable and above all most peaceful in comparison to all other models.[14]

Those who advocate the Unipolar Security Model (USM) claim that this model gives the most security guarantees as in this case there is simply one power (state) to be in a position of a dominant actor in global politics having a role of a global hegemon or world policemen. It is a belief that world politics can be mostly peaceful if there is a single dominant state that is strong enough to enforce peace as a global hegemon. The hegemon is going to be so powerful that no any other global actor can challenge its superiority in world affairs and IR. This model of global security was adopted by the US administration immediately after the Cold War and mainly was advocated by Zbignew Brzezinski, who was trying to lay down academic foundations of the American hegemonic position in global politics which had primary goal to destabilize, dismember and finally occupy Russia for the sake of free of charge exploitation of her natural resources according to the Kosovo pattern from June 1999 onward. If the US administration succeeds in realization of such goal, the global geopolitical game over the Eurasian Heartland would be finally resolved in the favor of Washington.

The NATO was, is and going to be from the very beginning of its existence (est. 1949) the fundamental instrument of the US policy of global hegemony concept that is known also as Pax Americana. Up today, the NATO remains the most powerful military alliance in the world that was allegedly established “…to provide security for Western Europe, NATO became an unprecedented peacetime alliance with a permanent secretariat and a military headquarters that represents the US commitment to deter Soviet aggression”.[15] However, the very existence of the NATO after the dissolution of the Soviet Union clearly proves that the ultimate goal of its creation and functioning was not “to deter Soviet aggression” while its (only eastward) enlargement from 1999 onward indicates that in fact Russia was, is and going to be the chief object of the fundamental point of the NATO’s policy of the US expansionism and global hegemony. The 1998−1999 Kosovo War, in which the NATO’s forces became deeply engaged for the first time after its establishment in 1949, marks the beginning of the direct US policy of brutal and open gangsterism (at least) after the Cold War on the global level of IR and world politics.[16]

The USM is necessarily founded on an idea of hegemony in global politics. The word hegemonia comes from the ancient Greek language (as many other words used today by the Western academic world) with authentic means of “leadership”. In IR, a notion of a “hegemon” is used as a synonym for “leader” or “leading state” within the system (bloc) composed by at least two or several states. However, the bloc member countries have to establish and maintain certain relations between themselves what practically means that one of member states became de facto a hegemon within the whole bloc concerning decision making policy and procedure (for example, the USA in the NATO, the USSR in the Warsaw Pact or Germany in the EU). A leadership or hegemony within the system implies certain degree of order, collective organization and above all hierarchy relationships between the members of a system. However, political hegemony in IR does not exist by itself as it is a phenomenon which exists within some interstate system, that is itself the product of specific historical, political, economic, ideological or other circumstances. All hegemonic states within the system enjoy “structural power” which permits the leader to occupy a central leading position in its own created and run system. All other member states are collaborators to the leading role of the hegemon expecting to get a proper reward for their service. On the other hand, a hegemon has to mobilize its own economic, financial, technical, political, human and other resources in order to perform a role of a leader and, therefore, this is why only some (rich) states have a real potential to be hegemons (like the USA in the NATO, for instance).

The USA is today the world’s most powerful and imperialistic single state ever existed in history. Washington is after the WWII using the NATO as a justification of its global hegemonic designs and the American ability and willingness to resume a hegemonic role in the world are of the crucial importance of IR, world order and global security. In principle, majority of studies dealing with hegemony and imperialism point to the British 19th century empire and the US empire after the WWII as two most successful hegemonic cases in world’s political history.[17] Both of these two empires formally justified their policy of global imperialism within the framework of the concept of USM.

Probably the most important disadvantage of USM is that a unipolar world with a strong global hegemon will all the time tempt either one or several powers to try to challenge the hegemon by different means. This is basically an endless game till the hegemon finally lost its position as such and the system of security became transformed into a new form based on a new security model. That is exactly what happened with the Roman Empire as one of examples of USM.

Nevertheless, in the unipolar system, a hegemon faces few constraints on its policy, determines rules of game in global politics and restricts the autonomous actions by others as it was exactly the case by the US as a “world policemen” at the time of the New World Order in 1990−2008.[18] But on the other side, such hegemonic position and policy of terrorizing the rest of the world (or system) provokes self-defence reactions by others which finally results in the change in the distribution of power among the states (or actors) that can be a cause of war on larger scale of intensity and space. For the matter of comparison, the US hegemonic, Russophobic and barbaric global policy at the time of the post-Cold War New World Order can at the end cause a new world war with Russia (and probably China) as the Peloponnesian War (431−404 BC) was caused by the hegemonic policy of the Athens which provoked the fear and self-defence reaction by Sparta.[19]

The champions of the Bipolar Security Model (BSM), however, believe that a bipolarity of global politics could bring a long-time peace and world security instead of USM. In the case of BSM, the two crucial powers in the world are monitoring each other’s behavior on global arena and therefore removing a big part of the security uncertainty in world politics, international relations and foreign affairs associated with the possibility of the beginning of war between the Great Powers.

A Multipolar Security Model (MSM) looks like as the best option dealing with the prevention of war and protecting global security as a distribution of power is as much as “multi” there are lesser chances for outbreak of the war between the Great Powers. In essence, MSM can moderate hostility among the Great Powers as they are forced to create shifting alliances in which there are no permanent enemies. Nevertheless, for many researchers, MSM is in fact creating a dangerous uncertainty for the very reason as there is a bigger number of the Great Powers or other powerful actors in world politics.


The academic research field of Security Studies is of extreme complexity ranging from the standpoint that these studies should have a narrow military focus as the fundamental security threat to the territorial integrity of states comes during times of conflict to the view that individuals are the final research object of the studies but not the states themselves. Therefore, many academics focus their research on global security basically on human emancipation which is usually understood as achieving wide scope of freedoms – both individual and group.[20] They argue that academic discipline of Security Studies should focus on them but not on the security of the state.

Finally, there are many arguments over what the research and referent object of Security Studies has to be, whether military power is fundamental for state security, who is going to be mainly responsible for providing security or what the studies as academic field have to consider as its research subject matter and focus. The fundamental aim of this article was to present the main route through the (mine)field of Security Studies as an academic research discipline.


[1] Karen A. Mingst, Essentials of International Relations, Third edition, New York−London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, 81.

[2] On globalization of world politics, see (John Baylis, Steve Smith, Patricia Owens, The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Seventh edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

[3] On world-system, see more in (Alvin Y. So, Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency, and World-System Theories, Newbury Park−London−New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1990; Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction, Fifth edition, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007).

[4] Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013, 715. In one word, WST conceptualizes global order to be structured into developed, underdeveloped and intermediary states and economic systems.

[5] Paul R. Viotti, Mark V. Kauppi, International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity, Fourth Edition, Upper Saddle River, New Jersay: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009, 40.

[6] Sovereignty means that one state (or political territory) has its own government (political rulling establishment) which has both full authority over its own claimed administered territory and the rights and possibility of membership of (at least some) the international political community. However, there are many examples of the so-called “quasi-sovereign states” (like Kosovo, North Cyprus, Transnistria…). On the issue of „quasi-sovereign states“, see (Cynthia Weber, Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State, and Symbolic Interchange, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

[7] Martin Wight, Systems of States, Leicester, UK: Leicester University Press, 1977, 6.

[8] Supranational means to be above the sovereign state or “over the nation”.

[9] However, this mechanism is not providing absolute security within the same bloc as the case of Italy and Austria-Hungary showed in 1917.

[10] According to the 1994 Human Development Report (an annual publication of the UNDP), human security is composed by the next seven elements: 1. Economic security or freedom from poverty; 2. Food security or access to food; 3. Health security or access to health care and protection from diseases; 4. Environmental security or protection from environmental pollution; 5. Personal security or physical safety from torture, war, and drug use; 6. Community security or survival of traditional cultures and ethnonational groups; and 7. Political security or protection against political oppression (Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008, 147).

[11] Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012, 578.

[12] Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012, 574.

[13] However, this concept lost its moral ground in 1999 when the NATO made an aggression on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days without a resolution by the UNO launching the “illegal war” on a sovereign state (Пјер Пеан, Косово: „Праведни“ рат за стварање мафијашке државе, Београд: Службени гласник, 2013, 95−105 [translation from the French original: Pierre Pean, Sébastien Fontenelle, Kosovo: Une Guerre „Juste“ pour Créer un Etat Mafieux, Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2013]).

[14] Security Studies as an academic discipline belong to a wider subject of International Relations (IR) that is the study of total political relations between different international actors but fundamentally between the sovereign states. The main concern of Security Studies is the global securuty and its maintainance (Peter Hough, Understanding Global Security, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2008, 2).

[15] Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012, 345.

[16] As a direct result of the NATO’s aggression on Serbia and Montenegro in 1999, Kosovo became transformed into the American colony (see more on this issue in: Hannes Hofbauer, Experiment Kosovo: Die Rückkehr des Kolonialismus, Wien: Promedia Druck- und Verlagsges. m.b.h., 2008).

[17] For instance, Joshua S. Goldstein, International Relations, Fourth edition, New York: Longman, 2001, 92.

[18] A term New World Order is originally coined by the ex-US President George Bush Senior in 1991as a consequence of the First Gulf War in 1990−1991 when the US administration started its post-Cold War imperialistic policy of a global hegemon hidden behind an idea of globalization of liberal internationalism that was allegedly impossible without the US hegemonic role in world politics. Nevertheless, the concept of New World Order „…was short-hand for US policy preferences and further American imperialism“ (Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013, 712). Many academics and politicians have at the beginning hopes that New World Order will bring a better future in IR and global politics but very soon the idea became very criticized and, therefore, the idea lost any rational and moral background.

[19] Михаил Ростовцев, Историја старога света: Грчка и Рим, Нови Сад: Матица српска, 1990, 112−120; Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1999.

[20] Emancipation means, at least by the Westerners, the achievement of independence, i.e., ability to act independently. However, to be emancipated does not automatically mean that the individual is free of all obligations toward others including and those toward the state (military service, taxation…). It means only that the individual is free of those obligations which are considered to be oppresive or inhuman (slavery, serfdom…).


Alvin Y. So, Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency, and World-System Theories, Newbury Park−London−New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1990.

Cynthia Weber, Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State, and Symbolic Interchange, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Hannes Hofbauer, Experiment Kosovo: Die Rückkehr des Kolonialismus, Wien: Promedia Druck- und Verlagsges. m.b.h., 2008.

Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction, Fifth edition, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013.

John Baylis, Steve Smith, Patricia Owens, The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Seventh edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Joshua S. Goldstein, International Relations, Fourth edition, New York: Longman, 2001.

Karen A. Mingst, Essentials of International Relations, Third edition, New York−London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.

Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008.

Martin Wight, Systems of States, Leicester, UK: Leicester University Press, 1977.

Paul R. Viotti, Mark V. Kauppi, International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity, Fourth edition, Upper Saddle River, New Jersay: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.

Peter Hough, Understanding Global Security, 2nd Edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2008.

Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012.

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1999.

Михаил Ростовцев, Историја старога света: Грчка и Рим, Нови Сад: Матица српска, 1990.

Пјер Пеан, Косово: „Праведни“ рат за стварање мафијашке државе, Београд: Службени гласник, 2013 [translation from the French original: Pierre Pean, Sébastien Fontenelle, Kosovo: Une Guerre „Juste“ pour Créer un Etat Mafieux, Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2013].

Prof. Dr Vladislav B. Sotirović

Mykolas Romeris University

Institute of Political Sciences

Vilnius, Lithuania



© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2017

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“Megali Idea” and Greek Irredentism in the Wars for a Greater Greece, 1912−1923

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The origins of Megali Idea

Eleftherios Venizelos and a Greater Greece (1910)

Greece became the independent state (from the Ottoman Empire) in 1829−1833 with the crucial diplomatic, political, financial and military assistance by the UK and Russia. It was a very fact that the Kingdom of Greece incorporated at that time only around 25% of the Greeks who were living at the Balkans and Asia Minor (the Near East). Such situation created tensions between Greece and the Ottoman Empire as the Greeks wanted their total national unification what was possible only under the conditions of the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, from the very beginning of its sovereignty, the chief aim of the Greek foreign policy was to realize the idea of national unification which was some 60 years after the granting of independence officially formulated as an irredentist project of Megali Idea (Great Idea) – a territorial extension for the sake to create united (Greater) Greece[1] based on the claiming historical and ethnic Greek territories existing within the borders of the Byzantine Empire, which is considered by the Greeks as their medieval national state. Therefore, the capital of such Greater Greece would be Constantinople (the Ottoman/Turkish Istanbul). The proponents of Megali Idea, in other words, aspired to unite within the borders of a single national political unity all the areas of Greek settlement in the Near East. The historical sources indicate that this term was used for the first time by Ioannis Kolettis who was a Hellenized Vlach. In 1844, in the debates about the Greek constitution, I. Kolettis championed the state’s policy to include the so-called heterochthons – the Greek-speakers living as diaspora outside the national state. As a contrast, Greece was populated by the autochthons or the “natives”, i.e. the Greeks from the heartland of the struggle for the national independence. For him, Greek territory was any land associated with Greek history and/or Greek people and their culture. In the first half of the 19th century, there were two centers of Hellenic culture: Athens – a capital city of the Kingdom of Greece and Constantinople – a capital city of the medieval Byzantine Empire called by the Greeks “the dream and hope of all Greeks”. What exactly told Ioannis Kolettis before the constituent assembly in Athens in 1844 is:

“The Greek kingdom is not the whole of Greece, but only a part, the smallest and poorest part. A native is not only someone who lives within this Kingdom, but also one who lives in Ioannina, in Thessaly, in Serres, in Adrianople, in Constantinople, in Trebizond, in Crete, in Samos and in any land associated with Greek history or the Greek race…”[2]       

However, the policy of Greek irredentism was not a unique phenomenon in the 19th-century Balkan history as Serbs, Romanians, Bulgarians, Albanians, and Croats had their own political projects to create their own mega national states too. A difference between the Greeks on one hand and all other Balkan nations on other was a fact that other Balkan nations were relatively compactly settled in comparison to the Greeks who have been widely scattered within a region of the Near East.[3] More precisely, the Greek settlements were located from Valona (today Albania’s Vlorë) in the west to Varna in Bulgaria in the north and from Crete in the south to Cappadocia in the east. The problem was that such huge territory was intermixed by many Balkan and Anatolian people making some microregions even without a clear ethnic majority. Therefore, it is not of any surprise that Balkan nationalisms met each other in many provinces bringing Balkan nations into the open military conflicts (for instance, the Second Balkan War in 1913). The Greek-speakers were divided into two groups according to their confessional affiliations: The Muslims and the Christian Orthodox. The first group was presented, for instance, in Cyprus and Crete, while the inhabitants of the Aegean Islands belonged to the second group. However, only a few of those islands became parts of independent Greece after the War of Independence in 1821−1829. In addition, there was a very large Greek population in Constantinople/Istanbul around the shores of the Sea of Marmara, and along the western littoral of Asia Minor especially around the city of Smyrna/Izmir and in the very center of Anatolia (Cappadocia). However, there were many ethnic Greeks who spoke the Turkish language being, in fact, assimilated and denationalized. The northern littoral of Asia Minor – the Pontos (between the Black Sea and the Pontic Alps), was as well populated with a large number of Greeks who were kind of specific and extraordinary members of the Greek national corpus as having been isolated for the centuries from the mainstream of the Greek culture and civilization. The Pontic Greeks in large numbers preferred to emigrate to much more welcoming Christian Orthodox Russia’s northern shores of the Black Sea. They were speaking a form of the Greek language that was basically a dialect hardly understood by the heterochthons Greeks in Greece.        

Triumph of Achileus

It is very important to emphasize that the choice of Athens as a capital city was, in fact, of the temporal solution till Constantinople would be incorporated into the united national state of Greece according to the design of Megali Idea. In the early 1830s, Athens was, on one hand, nothing more than a big dusty village but on another hand it was a settlement which was dominated by the imposing ruins of the Antique time like the Acropolis and its splendid Parthenon with their associations with the glories of the Classical Age of the Greek history.[4] Nevertheless, the choice of Athens was a clear indicator of the cultural orientation of a new Greece toward the classical past of the Greek national history. Very soon the proponents of Megali Idea developed an ideological framework which connected a Greek classical history with the medieval Byzantine time[5] and modern period into one theory of unbroken continuity of the national historical development. The Greek literal language at that time experienced the Katharevousa – a purification of the language according to the classical standards. In 1837 the university was established with the prime task to spread out the ideas of a Hellenic culture and civilization for the sake of re-Hellenization of Greeks. The university’s students, however, have been not only from Greece but as well from other Greek-populated territories who then returning to their homes were spreading the ideas of Hellenism and unified Greek lands into a single nation-state. The Ottoman authorities started only after the Greek-Ottoman War of 1897 to restrict educational and national propaganda among the heterochthons Greeks, i.e. those who were living in the diaspora.      

A practical realization of Megali Idea

A practical realization of the pan-Hellenic unification was passing through several stages what primarily depended on the matter of international relations between the European Great Powers. Surely, for the whole century, after Greece obtained its independence, the Greek foreign policy was dominated by Megali Idea – a grandiose vision of restoring the Byzantine Empire by the annexation of all lands of compact Greek settlement in the Near East (Asia Minor and the Balkans), with Constantinople as the capital. During the period of Pax Ottomanica (or Tourkokratia), Russia was seen by all Balkan Christian Orthodox people as a natural protector and ultimate liberator from the Ottoman yoke. For Greeks, Russia was playing this role during the first decades of the independence as well for the sake to assist in the realization of the Greek irredentist ambitions framed by Megali Idea. During the Crimean War in 1853−1856, there was a great enthusiasm among Greeks to support Russia hoping that in the case of Russia’s victory, Thessaly and Epirus, in which the Greek guerrilla detachments were operating, will be annexed by Athens. However, in the decade after the Crimean War, the Greek enthusiasm for the Russian support declined for the reason that Sankt Petersburg championed Bulgarians, especially in disputed Macedonia – the fundamental rivals of the Greeks for the influence and hegemony in the Ottoman Macedonia. Therefore, Athens turned its attention toward the UK from which got seven Ionian Islands in 1864 (according to the London Treaty)[6] likewise Thessaly and the Arta district of Epirus in 1881 as a result of the decisions by the West European Great Powers at the Berlin Congress (June−July 1878).    

The process of industrialization and political realization of Megali Idea, as the dominant ideology of the emerging state, brought Greece into a large international (primarily to the UK) debt.[7] However, the debt, on another side, provided the fundamental basis for the Greek victory in both Balkan Wars in 1912−1913, as a result of which Greece doubled its territory by annexing Aegean Macedonia, Crete and some other East Mediterranean islands. During the time of the Great War in 1914−1918 the Greek political agenda was influenced by fundamental constitutional, ideological, and social conflict about the side Greece should support in order to go further toward the final realization of the project of Megali Idea. Two basic positions became crystallized from the very beginning of the war:

  1. The Germanophile King, Constantine I,[8] insisted on the Greek strict neutrality that was, in fact, an indirect supporting of the Central Powers.
  2. The liberal government of Eleftherios Venizelos[9] advocated supporting the war on the side of the Entente (the UK, Russia, France).

As a result of such struggle, King Constantine I dismissed his ministers, who now formed an alternative government in opposition to him residing in North Greece in Thessaloniki in September 1916. Therefore, Greece became divided during the WWI into the southern Germanophile part with Athens, governed by the King and the northern pro-Allied part administered by the alternative government. Taking into consideration this internal political disputes and instability, the external pressure by both military blocs made the Greek neutrality practically impossible to further maintain. Finally, the Entente’s powers entered North Greece in April 1916 for the sake to protect the alternative government in Thessaloniki forcing, at the same time, the King into exile in June 1917. The Macedonian Front was created in North Greece wherefrom the beginning of the end of the Central Powers and their satellites started in mid-September 1918. Subsequently, Greece found itself at the end of the war on the side of the victorious Entente with a great hope to ultimately establish a unified national state of Greeks by the annexation of the Greek-populated lands in Anatolia (Asia Minor), the Aegean Sea islands and the Balkan Thrace with Constantinople.[10]

Greece after the WWII

A catastrophe of Megali Idea

After the Great War, according to the Peace Treaty of Sèvres (August 10th, 1920), Greece had to realize its greatest territorial expansion since its independence in 1829/1833.[11] More precisely, according to the treaty, Adrianople (Edirne), East Thrace, and Smyrna (Izmir) region in Asia Minor were given to Greece from the Ottoman Empire which participated in the war on the side of the Central Powers. Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands went to Italy, while, according to the same treaty, a short-lived independent Republic of Armenia was created and Kurdistan gained autonomy as well. The Ottoman Empire lost its Arab-populated provinces. The Bosphorus and Dardanelles were demilitarized and placed under the international supervision. The Ottoman army had to be reduced to 50.000 soldiers. However, the Peace Treaty of Sèvres increased Turkish nationalistic sentiments and united nationalistic Turks around a new leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The treaty was never ratified by the Ottoman Parliament in Istanbul and, therefore, it never came into force. A war criminal and killer of Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks Mustafa Kemal Atatürk reclaimed Smyrna region from Greece in a successful military campaign in 1922, which finally led to the new treaty now much favorable to the Ottoman Empire – the Treaty of Lausanne (July 24th, 1923). This is a settlement which, basically, replaced the earlier Treaty of Sèvres after the Greek-Ottoman War of 1919−1922[12]: Greece had to return Smyrna region and East Thrace with Adrianople to the Ottoman Empire (soon transformed into the Republic of Turkey).[13] According to the same treaty, Kurdistan lost autonomy and the Ottoman reconquest of independent Armenia was confirmed. The Ottoman/Turkish government, in returned, accepted the British mandate over Palestine and Iraq and the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon. Cyprus was confirmed as UK’s possession as the Dodecanese Islands were confirmed as Italy’s possession. All Aegean Islands, except Tenedos and Imbros, remained under Greece. The Dardanelles remained demilitarized and open to shipping but supervised by a newly established League of Nations. However, this new and final settlement of the Greek-Turkish border resulted in serious refugee crises, basically, legalized ethnic cleansing under the auspices of an international community. In other words, some 1.5 million of the Ottoman Greeks, primarily from the Smyrna region, were forced to leave Asia Minor to Greece, while at the same time up to 350.000 Muslims and Turks left Greece to Turkey. This peace treaty still up today is the fundamental basis of the political tensions between Turkey and the Greeks.

Smyrna 1922: Massacre of local Greeks by the Ottoman Army of Kemal Ataturk

Greece, after the military disaster in 1922, primarily due to the facts that France and especially the UK did not support the Greek side in the conflict, followed by diplomatic catastrophe in 1923, achieved the integration of Greek refugees from Asia Minor by a large redistribution of land (the land reform), which at the same time destroyed large landholdings (latifundias) and created a large group of small landowners, who now became the backbone of Greece’s economy for a long time. However, after the military catastrophe in 1922 and a diplomatic disaster in 1923, the concept of Megali Idea in the foreign policy of Greece left to be only on the paper with no real hope to be implemented in the reality anymore regardless on the fact that still up today Greek political culture is much ideologically imbued.[14] 

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović   



© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2018


[1] Jan Palmowski, A Dictionary of Contemporary World History from 1900 to the Present Day, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 253.

[2] Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992, 48.

[3] In the British mind, the Near East was composed by the Ottoman Balkans and Asia Minor followed by the Aegean Sea between.

[4] On this issue, see in Josiah Ober, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Princeton−Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015.

[5] About Byzantine history, see in Eric Brown, The Byzantine Empire: A Complete Overview of the Byzantine Empire History from Start to Finish, Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace, 2018.

[6] Those seven Ionian Islands were under the British protectorate since 1815 according to the decisions by the Vienna Congress. Formally, the Great Powers of the UK, France, and Russia gave over the Ionian Islands to Greece in 1864, with their 2.000 square meters and 200.000 inhabitants. In the same year, the new constitution of Greece was adopted according to which, the ruler became “The King of the Greeks” [Georges Castellan, History of the Balkans from Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin, Boulder: East European Monographs, 1992, 334]. 

[7] On this issue, see in John A. Levandis, The Greek Foreign Debt and the Great Powers, 1821−1898, New York: Columbia University Press, 1944.

[8] Constantine I (1868−1922), a son of the Greek King George I, was twice the King of Greece: in 1913−1917 and in 1920−1922. He was married to Sophia, the sister of a German Emperor Wilhelm II. During the war with the Ottoman Empire in 1897, Constantine commanded the Greek army in Thessaly and was a Greek commander-in-chief during the Balkan Wars of 1912−1913. Constantine I was forced to leave Greece in June 1917 under the British and French pressure. He died in exile in Palermo after being the King of Greece for the second time in 1920−1922. See more in [George Melas, King Constantine I of Greece and the War, Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace, 2015].

[9] Eleftherios Venizelos (1864−1936) was a leading Greek politician and statesman of the first half of the 20th century, born on Crete. He was PM for a total time of 12 years. E. Venizelos became known for the first time as a very active national worker at the time of the Cretan Revolt and Greek-Ottoman War of 1897. The conflict with the Ottoman authorities in Crete started in 1896 when the local Greeks required that all decisions of the 1878 Berlin Congress have to be implemented but also and as a reaction to the first Armenian genocide in 1896 organized by the Ottoman government [Михаило Војводић, Србија у међународним односима крајем XIX и почетком XX века, Београд: САНУ, 1988, 83−94. About this war, see more in Theodore George Tatsios, The Megali Idea and the Greek-Turkish War of 1897: The Impact of the Cretan Problem on Greek Irredentism, 1866−1897, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984]. At that time, he was an ardent supporter of the enosis, or union, of Crete with the motherland Greece. After the Greek-Ottoman War of 1987, Crete got autonomy and E. Venizelos participated in the drafting of Crete’s constitution as a member of the island’s assembly. In 1912 he led Greece into a political-military alliance with Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Serbia against the Ottoman Empire. On the break of the Great War, E. Venizelos’ decisive support of the Entente caused him the open conflict with King Constantine I who formally favored neutrality but, in fact, was supporting the Central Powers. In September 1916 E. Venizelos established a rival government in Thessaloniki and, therefore, opened the door to the „National Schism“. In June 1917, as a result of direct pressure from France and the UK, the King Constantine I left Greece and E. Venizelos established his own government as the new PM. After the war, he became the architect of a short-lived project of „Greece of the Two Continents and the Five Seas“. After 1922 defeat of Greece in Asia Minor, he was a Greek representative at the Lausanne peace conference. He died in France in 1936. See more in [Doros Alastor [Evdoros Joannides], Venizelos: Patriot, Statesman, Revolutionary, London: Lund Humphries, 1942; Kostas Kairophylas, Eleftherios Venizelos, His Life and Work, Los Angeles, CA: HardPress Publishing, 2012].  

[10] About Greece in the Great War, see in George B. Leon, Greece and the Great Powers, 1914−1917, Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1974.

[11] On Greece at the post-war peace conference in Paris, see in N. Petsalis-Diomidis, Greece at the Paris Peace Conference 1919, Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1978.

[12] About this war, see in Michael Llewellyn-Smith, Ionian Vision: Greece in Asia Minor, 1919−1922, London: Allen Lane, 1973. This war was, in fact, the last stage in the final solving of historical Eastern Question.

[13] During this war, the Greek-inhabited city of Smyrna was destroyed and burned by the Turkish army under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk [Marjorie Housepian, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City, London: Faber and Faber, 1972].

[14] Loring M. Danforth, “The Ideological Context of the Search for Continuities in Greek Culture”, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 2, 1984, 53−85.

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German Researchers: Berlin Owes Greece €185 Bln in WW II Reparations

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Two German researchers claim that Germany owes Greece 185 billion euros in World War II reparations, of which less that 1 percent has been paid.

German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reviewed a book called “Reparation Debt Mortgages of German Cccupation in Greece and Europe”, in which historian Karl Heinz Roth and researcher Hartmut Rubner, present documents of the dispute and conclude that, even though Berlin claims the war reparations issue was resolved in 1960, in fact nothing has been done about it.

According to their calculations, based on the study of mainly German documents, the total debt to Greece is 185 billion euros.

The book says that a U.S. alliance with the power elites of West Germany have denied Greece’s claims and ignored demands for war reparations.

While Greece claimed damages of 7.2 billion U.S. dollars at the Paris Reparations Conference in 1946, Athens was granted 25 million only.

Athens has claimed reparations, as the German occupation (1941-1944) literally destroyed Greece’s economy, infrastructure and currency.

On top of that, 140,000 Greeks died of malnutrition during the horrifying three and a half years the Nazis were in Greece. However, later claims by Greece were arrogantly rejected by German diplomats.

In 1960, Athens received 115 million German marks based on the London Treaty of 1953. Yet, that was a joint effort with other European countries that suffered from the WW II Nazis.

In the book, the two researchers note that Greece’s relationship with the German Federal Republic was erratic, based on asymmetric power relations.

The attitude of Germany towards Greece in regards to war reparations, did not change when the two Germanies reunified in 1990, and the 2+4 Treaty, the two writers say. At the time, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl diplomatically avoided Greece, and put the reparations issue permanently on hold.

Originally published on 2017-12-14

Author: Philip Chrysopoulos

Source: Greece Greek Reporter

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Greeks in Turkey on the Verge of Extinction

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The current Greek population in Turkey is estimated at fewer than 2,000.  But this population decline was not due to natural causes; the Greek community has become nearly extinct due to many state-sponsored attacks and pressure.

The largest attacks took place during the last years of the Ottoman Empire with pogroms and discrimination continuing until the present day.

In 2007, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) announced that “the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.”

The destruction of Greek heritage and institutions, including schools, continued after the Turkish republic was established in 1923. One tool to annihilate non-Turkish communities including Greeks was the so-called “Liberation Courts” that were set up in many Turkish cities.

“These courts,” writes the author Raffi Bedrosyan, “passed arbitrary decisions that almost invariably resulted in death sentences, with no defense or appeals allowed, and hangings carried out immediately. Among the victims of these courts were hundreds of Greek teachers in the American and Greek schools of the region, prominent community leaders, clergymen, and, tragically, entire members of the Merzifon Greek high school football team, only because the team was named Pontus Club, which was deemed sufficient reason to label them a rebel terrorist organization.”

Beginning on September 6, 1955, everything belonging to Greeks in Istanbul – homes, schools, offices, businesses, churches, cemeteries − was attacked by Muslim Turks. This pogrom greatly escalated Greek emigration from Turkey.

Nine years later came the forced Greek expulsions. In 1964, as a result of tensions over Cyprus, Turkey broke its agreement with Greece and prohibited all commercial dealings by Greeks holding a Greek passport, leading thereby to the departure of at least 45,000 Greeks.

In 1992 Helsinki Watch noted that “the Greeks were not allowed to sell their houses or property or to take money from their bank accounts.’’ They were forced to leave their birthplaces only with personal items weighing 20 kilos and money amounting to 20 dollars. According to the researcher Salih Erturan, the 1964 expulsion brought an end to Greeks of Istanbul.

Turkey’s Greek-speaking Orthodox citizens still cannot freely obtain education in their institutions. The Halki seminary in Istanbul, or the Theological School of Halki, the main theological school of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, was closed down by the Turkish state in 1971 and has not been reopened.

In addition, the Turkish government does not recognize the “Ecumenical” status of the Patriarch and Patriarchate, the spiritual center of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic of Yale Law School wrote in its legal analysis:

“Centuries of Turkish discrimination against and persecution of the Patriarchate and the Orthodox minority have been well documented… Turkey’s treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox minority violates its obligations under international human rights law.”

The Turkish government has also confiscated much of the real estate belonging to Greek Orthodox Christians. “Many properties have been lost over the past few decades, such as office buildings, orphanages and other institutions,” said Walter Flick, a religious expert with the International Society for Human Rights in Germany, speaking to Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster.

The Buyuk Akinti Burnu Greek primary school in the Arnavutkoy district of Istanbul, for example, was restored and reopened in 2011 by the Bogazici University Alumni Association (BUMED) − but not as a Greek school. It was reopened as a Turkish kindergarten. The Greek primary school had been established in 1902 when there were still sizeable Greek communities in what was then called Constantinople, but was closed in 2009 due to a lack of Greek students, reported the Turkish Dogan News Agency (DHA).

In 2016, only 19 Greek students graduated from three Greek schools in Turkey, reported the weekly newspaper Agos.  Yannis Demircioglu, the principal of the Greek Zografyan High School, said that for the last 21 years, “the number of graduates has been ranging between 19 and 27 every year.”

In the 1926-27 school year, there were 58 schools belonging to the Greek community in Turkey with 7213 students, 352 teachers and 222 administrators. Only five have survived, according to Demircioglu.

“The real problem is that we have a limited number of students,” the former representative of Minority Foundations, Laki Vingas, said.

“Founded in 1454, Fener Greek High School is one of the oldest education institutions in Europe, but it has fewer than 50 students now. This troubles the administration. It is the same with Zapyon and Zografyan… These schools are centuries old and the last remaining Greek communal institutions.

“Their situation is alarming. Istanbul was once a leading city in terms of education, not only for local Greek culture there, but also for Greek communities in all of Anatolia, Greece, and Balkans. This is a huge decline, and we are struggling to keep the schools open. This is the most worrisome issue for me.”

From Greek Asia Minor to 21st Century Turkey with a Dying Greek Community

Before Turks arrived in Asia Minor from Central Asia in the eleventh century, the indigenous population of the region spoke and wrote in Greek and was Greek Orthodox. Even the names of the region come from the Greek language such as “Anatolia” (from the Greek “Anatole,” “east” or “sunrise”) and “Asia Minor” (from the Greek “Mikra Asia,” little Asia).

However, the Greek cultural heritage in Turkey is on the verge of disappearing forever.  Turkey is 99.8% Muslim today. As the researcher Tania Karas wrote, “One thousand, seven hundred Greeks left in a nation of 79 million… A century of oppression has nearly wiped out a religious minority group with historic ties to the region.”

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), which established the Turkish Republic in 1923 and ruled ‎until 1950, stated in its 1946 report on minorities that its aim was to leave no Greek in ‎Istanbul until the 500th anniversary of the 1453 “conquest” of Istanbul (1953).

It seems that their “dream” is about to come true.

Originally published on 2017-02-15

About the author: Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist formerly based in Ankara. She is presently in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/uzayb

Source: Clarion Project

Note by Vladislav B. Sotirovic:

Between the years 1914-1923 the Ottoman Empire instigated a violent campaign of persecution against its ethnic Greek minority. By 1923, upwards of 1 million Ottoman Greeks were victims to one of the first genocides of the 20th century. This campaign is known as the Greek Genocide. Visit: www.greek-genocide.net

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