News / Europe

Istanbul Exhibition Examines Greek-Turkey Relationship

Dorian Jones

The mass, forced population exchange between Turkey and Greece nearly 100 years ago is being examined in a groundbreaking exhibition in Istanbul. The exhibition is seen as an important step in the growing rapprochement between the two countries that remained foes for much of the past century.

An exhibition at Istanbul's Bilgi University documents the forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. The mutually agreed upon exchange followed the defeat of a Greek invasion of Turkey.

Despite involving millions of people, the event remained largely a taboo subject for Turks throughout the past century, according to Ayhan Aktar one of the exhibition organizers.

"The exchange of 1.2 million Anatolian Greeks with 400,000 [Greek] Muslims, and it is only mentioned in the modern history books, one of two paragraphs that is all," said Aktar. "The founders of the republic did many things and did not want to have a discussion about it. But you can stop discussion for a few decades, but it comes out. And the exhibition is related to this trend."

Through audio and video testimonies and archive film footage the exhibition, called "Twice a Stranger," explains the repercussions of the forced migration and other similar exchanges throughout the 20th Century.

Exhibition video director Andreas Apostolidis says interviews of 105 migrants indicate most share a common experience of alienation. He says that common experience can help bring Turks and Greeks closer.

"Even the second generation or the third generation, families transferred from one country to another still exist as a problem," said Apostolidis. "Especially a lot of people second generation trying to find the roots of their family and the roots of their family is in the opposite country. Many people in Greece and many people in Turkey they consider as their home, their homeland, not where they live today, but the country [where their] families lived 60 years or 100 years before."

Turkish and Greek relations through the 20th Century were tense, almost spilling into war on several occasions, the last time in 1996 over ownership of an uninhabited islet. But the 21st Century has been characterized by rapprochement.  

Greek exhibition worker Leonidas Liamabeys welcomes the fact Turks are becoming aware of a shared tragic past.

"It is something that everyone knows about, it is something that is taught in schools," Liamabeys. "People know about it, it is no means forgotten. It is very exciting it is happening in Istanbul, [the exhibition is] also going to Cyprus and it is also going to Athens. I do not think we can move forward by forgetting the past. It has to be something you move through, think about, and actually work with. It is not something to completely erase."

Speaking to Turkish visitors at the exhibition there is a thirst for learning about their lost past.

"Very touching, heart breaking," said a visitor. "I mean we lost a big part of our culture, I was born here in Istanbul and I always lived in a district where the Greeks, Armenians, Jews used to live together. The young generation had already left, it was only the old ones who resisted to remain here. And now they have all gone, and the culture they were representing has also gone."

Maria from Athens is one of a small, but growing number of Greeks who have recently come to Istanbul to work. She welcomes the exhibition, but is not surprised by it.

"Not anymore, I would of been very surprised a few years ago. Nowadays we have seen Turkey is in [the forefront] of these kind of things," said Maria. "And it honestly accepts these kind of attempts, and I find it very nice actually that it [the exhibition] starts from here and it is going to continue to Greece and Cyprus as well."

While the exhibition documents the cultures and traditions lost to both countries from the evacuations, there are signs of change in Istanbul.  

A short walk from the exhibition some of the remaining local ethnic Greeks, along with other Turks and Greeks now working in Istanbul, revived the carnival celebrating the start of the Christian Lenten season by staging parades Sunday and Monday. A century ago tens of thousands would have attended the carnival, but observers say less than a decade ago such a celebration in Turkey would have been unimaginable.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs