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Long History of Turkish-Greek Relations Marked by Decades of Friendship

Converging interests, common threats brought 2 countries together, says Greek expert

After fighting each other during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), World War I (1914-1918), and the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1922), Türkiye and Greece established friendly relations.

Having left the war years behind, the modern Republic of Türkiye embraced its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s principle of “Peace at home, peace in the world” and consequently proceeded to establish cordial relations with neighboring countries, including Greece.

Accordingly, the period of cordial relations started between Türkiye and Greece in 1930.

Speaking to Anadolu, Dimitris Stamatopoulos, a senior expert on Balkan history at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece, underlined that both Ataturk and former Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos were far-sighted leaders, who agreed that their countries should leave historical hostilities behind and seek ways to have cordial relations.

Moreover, the conditions in the region at the time facilitated the process, he said.

In particular, the Balkan countries were already eyeing the formation of a regional pact to prevent armed conflicts and to counter Soviet influence in the region, said Stamatopoulos.

He said the issue of status and value of the properties owned by those who moved to Greece from Türkiye and those who moved to Türkiye from Greece as part of the Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations in 1923 also played a role in the betterment of bilateral relations.

“As it was a very complicated issue, Ataturk and Venizelos agreed that both countries would drop their claims for compensation of the left-behind properties,” said Stamatopoulos.

He said the era which started with the Greek-Turkish Treaty of Friendship, Neutrality, Conciliation and Arbitration in 1930 was further consolidated with the nomination of Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934 and the formation of the Balkan Pact in 1935.

– Ataturk House in Thessaloniki

On the 10th anniversary of the Republic of Türkiye’s foundation, the Thessaloniki City Council decided to gift the house, where Ataturk was born and lived for the first seven years of his life, to Turkish state.

In 1937, the house’s key was given to the Turkish General Consulate in the city and eventually, the house started to function as a museum.

The building, which went through an extensive restoration in 2012, is visited by a vast number of tourists from Türkiye and other parts of the world.

Source : Yeni Safak