Méditterrannée, mon amour

I am sailing with my family in the Agean. I will write more about this later when I will have a decent internet connection. Today, a security message was sent to all ships in the region that they should be cautious because of the presence of military maneuvering by the US army in the Eastern meditterranean.

Yesterday, a Turkish newspaper published a poll done in Turkey and Greece about how people of both countries perceive each other. 7% of Turkish say they perceive Greece as a threat and more than 80 % of Greeks say they perceive Turkey as a threat. A majority of Turkish fear the US.

Last Sunday, a server at a Greek restaurant asked us if we were French. We said 'Yes'. He said 'Sarkozy' (The newly elected ultraconservative, ultraliberal, ultraddemagogue, ultrarightist French president). We asked what he has to say about Sarkozy. He said : 'A great president, like Mitterrand'. We asked what was in his opinion so great about Sarkozy. He said that Sarkozy has a real vision for Europe. 'What vision we asked' and he answered: 'A Europe without Turkey'.

Now I know what is not so great about Greeks, they boast about themselves as part of Europe but at the same time they are misusing the money given to them by the European union. We visited Rhodes, the most Christian (Roman Catholic) of the Greek islands and the mainland. The castle built there by the Chevaliers of the order of St Jean of Jerusalem after they left the kingdom of Jerusalem, as well as the old medieval city, is full of boutiques covering its ancient walls, selling things one can find in all tourist shops around the world, and privately owned restaurants are inside the walls of the castle. This is despite Greece receiving money from the European union and from UNESCO to maintain this world heritage site. It is clear that modern Greece does not care about its Roman Catholic heritage but it joins nonetheless the choir of Muslim bashers when it comes to eliminate competition for European money and European markets. Because the only thing that is stopping the full integration of Turkey to the European Union is religion, and that should be said loud. Shame on Sarkozy, shame on European countries who, under false pretext, are closing the door to Turkey. And it seems that Belgium has joined this Muslim phobic european choir recently.

Greece, and with it, the western world, shun the oriental heritage in the hellenistic culture, from mesopotamian and pharaonic inlfuences to recent ottoman heritage.

The Agean was and still a privileged space for these East-West exchanges. And the US army is doing military excercices and maneuvers just in this area, inciting fears, erecting walls, and obscuring the many lights of great civilisations around the mediterranean.
The only country around the meditterranean who is finding this useful is Israel.

And there was another Car bombing in Lebanon today.


toasterhead said...

I blame Paris for this. If only he'd picked Athena instead of Aphrodite, Greco-Turkic relations might have been vastly different!

Léonard Roger Martin said...

Sophia: "Rhodes, 'the most Christian' of the Greek islands" and "Greece does not about its Roman Catholic heritage"???

What are you talking about???

Greece is 99% Christian. Orthodox Christian. Its heritage is Christian. Not Catholic, but Orthodox Christian.

I agree they hate Turks a bit too much but I think the occupation of their lands and the persecution of Christians they endured partly explains this.

Anonymous said...

There has been long and enduring antagonism between Romaan Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches; the rape of Constantinopole by the Crusaders a searing memory!

Of course Greeks would not care; but ask them about a restaurant at Mt. Athos and all of a sudden Mt. Athos is the Capital of Hellas!

Turkey does not belong in Europe since Europe is still a Christian continet (now in its post-Christian phase) and Turkey is still a deeply Sunni Muslim.

You can walk in Athens and walk in Ankara and sense the difference - oil and water that cannot mix.

pen Name

Elizabeth said...

It's amazing; I keep meeting people here who for some reason have some type of positive impression of Sarkozy. I think they actually bought the hype that the French are "anti-American" and somehow they think Sarkozy will make the French pro-American.

Sophia said...

The occupation of their lands ? Are you talking about Cyprus ? First Cyprus is not a Greek land. Second, it was the military Greek regime who started the invasion of Cyprus and not the other way around. The persecutions Christians endured in the Ottoman empire were due to the rise of nationalism and are to be put on the credit of Young turks and later Ataturk, and not Islam. islamism and nationalism in Turkey are not the same thing and Turkish secularists who declare themselves as Ataturk children are nationalists.
As of the relation of greek Orthodox to Catholicism, it is a pretty ambiguous relation as far as I know it from up close and personal. I was educated at a greek orthodox school.

Sophia said...

One could not better summarize the situation as you did.

Sophia said...

Sarkozy is from this new generation of leaders who are chosen by international corporations and Big money who in turn, through their media empires, prepare an image passepartout for their leader of choice. Sarkozy is just an image, nothing behind, exactly like Bush. People are voting for an image today because politics is becoming more and more complexe in the context of globalisation and people prefer simple messages and images to help them chose their leaders. This is a worrying trend...

Léonard Roger Martin said...

Nope, I wasn't talking of Cyprus. Neither was I speaking of Islam...

I was saying I agree that Turkophobia is a bit strong among Greeks - but then again, the Lebanese don't love the Syrians either - as Greeks were under the Ottoman Empire for 500+ years...

And I was saying that Greeks don't have a Catholic heritage - but an Orthodox one.

C'est tout ce que je disais, hein...

Enjoy your trip!

Richard said...


I am so jealous of you. I'm sure you already know of my love/connection of most things to do with Turkey/Aegian/Med.

I have to wait until September before I can go back again but already I am counting the days. So in the meantime, you enjoy (and 'take care of') it all for me.

Seriously, Sophia -- have an absolutely terrific time.

(Btw, I have some great Greek friends too. What a sorry, so often stupid world we have to live in, eh?)

Richard said...

Oops. To further 'complicate' matters, I should have said that another younger brother has sold up here in the UK and just retired to ..... guess where?

Cyprus;Greek variety.

Ain't life lovely -- for those among us who will allow/want it to be?

Once again, enjoy. Take care. Stay safe.

Sophia said...

Tu as raison, les Libanais haissent les syriens. beaucoup de haine dans la région cependant alors qu'il suffit de regarder tout ce que nous avons en commun.
A bientôt au Québec,

Sophia said...

I remember the beautiful pictures you posted from Fethiye. I met some British who own houses in greece and Turkey bought in the 70s for 100 pounds. The coast is beautiful. We didn't go to Fethiye but we visited Syrinos, Symii, Hiyat Buku on the datca peninsula, Knidos, and Bodrum, our port of departure. We are already planning our next vacation and I hope you will return soon yourself.

Richard said...

* We are already planning our next vacation *

What better recommendation can there be than that? Anyway, I'm glad it was all you expected.

As for myself -- I'm back there in September -- and I can hardly wait.

Naj said...

I read this post and followed the comments with interest. That Islamophobia's becoming epidemic is a fact. That, some muslims, like that commentator whom you wisely ignored, think Muslims have to be Europhobic in return, and that Islam should not mix with secular society, is even sadder.

It is sad because it highlights EXACTLY why the world doesn't like Muslims: they (people like this Pen Name) do not want/care to be liked. They do not like the "other", and they do not care to be liked either. Thus, they behave like brats!

I don't say Islamic civilization has to cater to the the taste of the Catholic one. But I cannot entirely blame the christians and the secularists for disliking muslims who issue death Fatwas as soon as something offends them.

I know I am using very generalized terms. I know not all muslims are Europe haters and not all Europeans are Islamophobes. But unfortunately the leadership of each camp is leaning in that direction, a bit too dangerously.

Sophia said...

I agree with you if you are talking about those Muslims who preach backward values and those who plant bombs. On the other hand there is a majority of Muslims who do not agree with the former category and need to organise to make their voice heard outside western propaganda (not Irshad Manji, not Hirsi Ali). I am optimistic that this will happen. It just need time.
But let's not make generalisations. Actually if you consider the case of Turkey, it has been enjoying a moderate Islamist government which is like Christian democratoc movements in Europe. Actually, secular nationalism is a biggest threat to Turkish democracy than present day islamism.
If we are talking about Arab governments, then I must admit how sad it is to watch them drag the aspirations of their people down in the name of Islam, and you know very well about whom I am talking. That's our biggest problem right now because this kind of Islam is blocking any emancipation and the worse is that it got the approval of the West...

Since March 29th 2006