Turkey has eyes on Greece’s territory and history
Many Turks believe that much, if not all, of Greece, in addition to the territories of other countries, is rightfully apart of Turkey. Many will dismiss such a claim as nonsense or a product of Turkophobia, but such people are simply ignorant of what many Turks, particularly prominent politicians and officials, think, and most importantly say.
As of late there has been numerous examples of Turkish officials bemoaning the Treaty of Lausanne. Signed in 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne established Turkey’s modern borders, brought an end to the Ottoman Empire and effectively made Turkey relinquish territorial claims on surrounding countries, such as Greece, Bulgaria, Iraq, and Syria among others.
Recently Erdoğan was highly critical of the treaty, complaining that “In Lausanne, we gave away the [now-Greek] islands that you could shout across to.” The mayor of Ankara İbrahim Melih Gökçek reiterated the President’s sentiments: “Due to the Treaty of Lausanne, The blue islands [all the Greek Aegean islands] shown below were given to Greece…And still Some people shamelessly say that’s a success…”
Then Erdoğan stated that, according to certain historians, Turkey’s National Contract (Misak-i Milli) includes “Cyprus, Aleppo, Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Batumi, Thessaloniki, Kardzhali, Varna and the islands of the Aegean.” In effect he is saying that these territories are legitimate parts of Turkey, regardless that they are not officially recognized as such currently. It is clear that Erdoğan and company are greatly irked that significant areas, which at one time were Ottoman lands, were ‘ceded’ to neighboring foreign countries, including territories that are now apart of Greece.
Erdoğan has continued his onslaught against the Treaty of Lausanne, most recently stating (emphasis mine):
“Unfortunately, in the Lausanne Treaty, some of our 3 million kilometers were taken away from us, leaving us with only 780,000. They took land right from under our noses and are proud of it. And they say that we came out of the treaty successfully. How can you call giving your land away success? … Of course we salute all of Lausanne’s successes, but Lausanne is not an unquestionable or holy scripture. Of course we will discuss it. Looking towards 2023, we are aware that this may upset the interests of many, but we will still go ahead with it.”
It is clear that by saying that the treaty is not “holy scripture” and that “of course we will discuss it,” Erdoğan is implying that he wants to in effect renegotiate it. Since a large part of the treaty pertains to territorial claims and Turkey’s borders, it seems appropriate to presume that Erdoğan’s desire to renegotiate the treaty means he wants to renegotiate Turkey’s borders, i.e. he wants to expand Turkey in an irredentist manner, at the expense of local countries such as Greece.
For many Turks appropriating Greece’s territory is not enough, they must also appropriate Greece’s history. One such example of the latter, is the ridiculous and risible claim, that the famous ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, is actually not a Greek but a Turk! Local authorities in the Turkish town of Berhamakale, which was at one time the ancient Greek city of Assos, “have restored the statue of Aristotle as a symbol of the city.” Apparently Mustafa Kemal Atatürk himself put forth the theory that Aristotle and other ancient Greek philosophers were in fact Turks.
I will leave it up to the reader to do his own historical studying to see why Atatürk’s claim Aristotle was a Turk is absurd. While such nonsense can easily be refuted by objectively studying history, unfortunately in modern day Turkey the reality of history has become subordinate to the dictats of Turkish ultranationalism.