The Modern Greek People, their Character and Racial Mix Page 2

Venizelous and the big ideaAsia Minor Greeks (The Pontious)

To make matters even more complex, Greek colonies were settled in Asia Minor and inland Anatolia at least as early as 1000 BC, as well as in present-day northeast Turkey on the south shores of the Black Sea. The 1.5 million Asia Minor Greeks who were compelled to leave the modern state of Turkey after the ill-fated Greek attempt in the early 1920s to reclaim Greek lands in Anatolia, and who flooded into Greece in 1923, were defined as Greeks only by their religion (Greek Orthodox), despite the fact that they were mostly bilingual, speaking both Greek and Turkish, and some of them only Turkish. These refugees were seen as (and were) very different from the Greeks on the Greek mainland where they were settled. Their contribution to the immensely popular music known as Rembetika, is well known and documented.

The Venetians, Genoese and Others

The Venetians and Genoese 'owned' and controlled entire Greek island groups for centuries before the Ottoman Turks, the Venetians concentrated in the Cyclades and in Crete, the Genoese more in the north Aegean. The modern Italians ruled the Dodecanese and the Ionian islands (they were also under British rule for half a century).

During the last decades of the 20th century up through the present, larger and larger numbers of immigrants from both western countries, east Europe (with the largest numbers from Albania), the former Soviet Union, and Africa, have settled in Greece. It must not be forgotten that vast numbers of Greeks have emigrated to West Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, especially since 1950, but even before that, so that there are more Greeks living outside of Greece than in it. All of the above amply demonstrates the absurdity of denying the complexity of 'influences' upon some imagined 'Greek temperament' or some postulating of a 'Greek character' that exists in some kind of pure vacuum. It should be noted that some 400,000 Muslims were relocated to modern Turkey at the same time that the 1.5 million Orthodox Christians flooded in, in 1923, this 'exchange of populations' dictated by the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne. Muslims were allowed to remain in the Greek part of Thrace, on the islands that had been Imvros and Tenedhos (though renamed with Turkish names), and in Kos and Rhodes, in exchange for permitting the Greek population of Constantinople/Istanbul to remain in what was now Turkish soil. Many Greeks will admit that it is hard to tell a Greek from a Turk just from physical appearance, and indeed the first actual Greeks are believed to have come to what is now Greece from Anatolia, a vast land populated from ancient times by a wide mix of peoples as well.

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