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The Greeks vs. The Turks

The Greeks vs. the Turks

The relationship between Greece and Turkey has a long and complex history, marked by periods of cooperation and competition, as well as periods of hostility and conflict. The two countries have a unique bond, as they share many cultural, historical, and geographical ties, but at the same time, they have also had a rivalry that has been shaped by a variety of factors throughout history.

Separated at birth

Historically, the relationship between Greece and Turkey has been shaped by a number of different factors. The Ottoman Empire, which ruled much of the region for centuries, had a significant impact on the development of both countries. The Ottoman Empire was dissolved after World War I and Greece and Turkey became separate nation-states. This led to a period of intense competition between the two countries, as they struggled to establish their identities and assert their sovereignty in the region.

During the Cold War, Greece and Turkey were on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain, with Greece being aligned with the West and Turkey with the East. This led to a great deal of tension between the two countries, as they competed for influence in the region and engaged in a number of proxy conflicts.

‘Cyprus is ours’

One of the main sources of tension between Greece and Turkey has been the long-standing dispute over the island of Cyprus. The island has been divided since 1974, with the northern part being controlled by Turkey and the southern part being controlled by Greece. Both sides have claimed sovereignty over the entire island and have engaged in a number of disputes over its status. Additionally, both countries have competing claims in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, leading to tension in the region.


Another source of tension between Greece and Turkey has been the issue of minority rights. Greece has long been home to a large Turkish minority, while Turkey has a large Greek minority. Both countries have been accused of mistreating their respective minorities and of failing to protect their rights. This has led to a great deal of tension between the two countries and has hindered their ability to cooperate on other issues.

Mutual understanding

In recent years, the relationship between Greece and Turkey has improved, as the two countries have worked to resolve some of their differences and build a more cooperative relationship. In 1999, the two countries signed the “Izmir Declaration”, which established a framework for cooperation in a number of areas, including culture, education, and trade. They also have ongoing dialogues on various topics such as economy, security, and migration.

However, the relationship between Greece and Turkey remains fragile and is often affected by regional and international events. Tensions have flared up again in recent years, particularly due to the Syrian Civil War and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. Additionally, ongoing disputes over natural resources, such as hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean and ownership of certain islands, have also caused tension.

What does this mean for visitors?

If you have been to Turkey, you will notice some interesting similarities between the Greek and the Turkish culture. For example, the food. Greek coffee is basically the same as Turkish coffee. Both cuisines love their grilled meats, and are big on the use of spices and herbs. Tzatziki and hummus are served in both country. Also, both love their sweet desserts, such as baklava.

On the other hand, there is the rivalry. Greeks don’t like to be compared to Turks and vice versa. At historical sites, there may be different narratives about the history or culture. This is very noticeable in Cyprus, where you can easily cross the border from Greece into Turkey. Also, sporting events between the two nations can get very passionate and patriotic.

However, most of the rivalry is played out in the political arena, and not all Greeks hold the same views on Turkey as their political representatives do. It is important to be mindful of how the topic is brought up and to avoid making insensitive or inflammatory statements. If a conversation does turn towards such topics, it’s best to avoid this discussion, as you may not be aware of the full context of the situation and may unknowingly offend someone.

In general, showing interest in both the Greek and Turkish culture in a non-judgmental way is the best way to deal with the tensions there may be between both nationalities. Let the locals voice all the opinions they want, but you’re simply here to enjoy life.

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