Greater Turkey
November 22, 2007 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Some help with the historical / political background on "Greater Turkey" and / or basic translation of a web page?

I stumbled upon this facebook group:

Could someone explain the reasoning behind this particular map? Why do they want bits of Iraq, but not Syria? What is the justification for getting Thessaloniki? How do they figure that Turkey should completely absorb Armenia?

It all just seems kind of arbitrary... why not just try for the whole Ottoman empire? What is special about these particular bits?

Anyone with Turkish language skills or knowledge of Turkish politics, your insight would be much appreciated.
posted by Meatbomb to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Gary Brechers last column on the kurds touches upon this. Basically the moden nationalistic turk cares about as much about the ottoman empire as an austrian cares about the old AustroHungarian empire.

The map is just what the world would look like after Turkey settling all its scores with the Armenians, the Kurds and Greece.
posted by uandt at 3:00 PM on November 22, 2007

If you search for Turkey on this wikipeda page, there's a bit of information on some of the Greek territories. You might also want to read up on the Grey Wolves.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:55 PM on November 22, 2007

Cough. Okay. I'll bite. You have stumbled on a nationalist page. Congrats.

(disclaimer I am Greek so whatever I say is my point of view.)

Turks "claim" territories in neighboring countries where there are minorities that they are interested in. In northern Iraq (Kurdistan) there are guerrillas with ties to the separatist movement of Kurds inside Turkey. Turks also claim Cyprus -there is a Turkish minority there- well, they actually got half of Cyprus already, so I guess that's done.
They also claim northern Greece because there is a large minority there of Muslim (not Turkish) population and Thessaloniki is the city where Kemal Ataturk (their modern era leader) was born, so it has some historical value for them. Also, they claim half of the Aegean Sea using their own definition of maritime sovereignty. I would dare say that their true interests are Kurds and the Aegean and all the rest are side issues they keep as extra cards for negotiations.

Although, I *believe* that Turkish territorial expansionism is basically out-of-place and the majority of Turkish people do not seriously/realistically consider it, there is part of the military that is still very aggressive. Greece and Turkey came into near conflict back in 1996 that would escalate *for sure* if it were not for the US who stepped in to calm both sides down.

I do not expect people in countries far away to understand this, nor to take a side necessarily, but although common sense dictates that wars are to be avoided at all costs, well, common sense does not always prevail in the Middle East.

A while ago here in AskMe I had said that Turkey must become part of EU, if not for other better reasons, but so that there is some long-standing peace in the region. Some laughed at me, because I am a pie in the sky idealist, but the fact of the matter is that if you do not experience the heat you don't sweat it.

Personally, I don't care what some hotheads in Greece and Turkey think, as long as they are kept at bay, but I lament the amounts those two countries waste on military expenses and the biases/prejudices that permeate and distort relations with third countries, neighboring or not.

/prolly more than what you asked for...
posted by carmina at 5:03 PM on November 22, 2007

I'm reading an excellent book just now 'A History of the Arab Peoples' by Albert Hourani- I've just gotten to the chapter on the Ottoman Empire and it gives a good perspective on why Turks (who were the main power in the Ottoman Empire) could feel they have claims to areas outside their present borders. The Ottomans also acted as protectors of Muslim interests outside their direct sphere of rule and this may well give some explanation of what carmina states regarding making claims on areas with muslim peoples that are not Turks.

Not finished the book to present day but if you are interested in the region and background this book looks to have some good insights.
posted by Gratishades at 2:31 AM on November 23, 2007

Every country that's suffered losses of territory has groups of nationalists who want some or all of that territory back. There are movements for Greater Syria, Greater Bulgaria, Greater Hungary, ad infinitum, including of course Greater Greece (the Greeks started a disastrous war with Turkey after WWI in an attempt to conquer chunks of Turkey they considered "theirs"). Many Chinese still think of Vietnam as rightfully theirs despite the fact that the Vietnamese threw off the Chinese yoke a thousand years ago. Nationalism sucks.

there is a large minority there of Muslim (not Turkish) population

Of course there are Turks in Northern Greece. Please tell me you're not one of those Greeks who claims there aren't ethnic minorities in Greece. "Bulgarians? Vlachs? No, no, there are just Greeks with different dialects!" I heard quite enough of that when I lived in Astoria.
posted by languagehat at 5:57 AM on November 23, 2007

languagehat, on the very contrary, I do accept there are minorities in Northern Greece, I said that already didn't I? In fact I even accept there were Slavic minorities which have been violently suppressed, a thesis that is very unwelcome in Greece.

What I was stating above is that the large Muslim minority (something like 60%) in Thrace are not just Turks, they are Roma, Pomaks and Turks. It is in the interest of Turkey to call them all Turkish, but it is not what they are. I think you will agree with me that it is very hard to distinguish and name racial minorities in the Balkans in particular; language and religion are shared by a lot of people but who want to identify themselves differently. Additionally, it is not in the interest of the minorities themselves to be drawn into a political game that does not concern them. Having said all that, I do admit that it has been an embarassment and a violation of human rights (fuck Lausanne, I say) the way the Muslim minority has been treated, pretty much till the nineties.
posted by carmina at 10:32 AM on November 23, 2007

One more thing, languagehat, I think it is unfair to equate Greater Greece and Greater Hungary with Greater Turkey because you are overlooking their relative importance and influence in the respective communities. I know you did not mean that in your comment, but you didn't qualify it as such either. And I 100% agree with you, Nationalism Sucks.
posted by carmina at 10:38 AM on November 23, 2007

Guys, I understand the basic concepts of irredentism, I am really more interested in the specifics of this case / this map. As I said, the bits they seem to want are, to my eye, fairly arbitrary.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:27 PM on November 23, 2007

carmina: Sorry, I meant to get back to you earlier, but the sexism ruckus in MetaTalk distracted me. Thanks for your friendly explanation; yes, I agree with you, it is hard to distinguish minorities in the Balkans, and I agree with everything else you say. I simply misread your "(not Turkish)"—I hope you'll grant that I had reason for my misreading, given the prevalent views of Greek nationalists, but I shouldn't have been so hasty.

Meatbomb, I don't think you're going to get a logical explanation of why each bit is on the map; you could write to the people who made it and ask, but in my experience this kind of nationalism is not logical or consistent, and the same people might have come up with a different map a week later.
posted by languagehat at 5:28 PM on November 24, 2007

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