Last weekend, on Saturday, Greece faced Turkey for the Euro 2008 qualification round. Greece played in its own turf… and was crushed 4-1. Greeks took it personally; losing to Turkey their “arch-nemesis” was unacceptable, especially in their own country. This is football, the team who scores the most goals or concedes the fewest wins, not the one one may support . Turks scored 4 goals and Greeks only 1. You cannot expect to win every time. This is life. You have to accept defeat and try to learn from it.
What was really amazing and troubling at the same time was the online quarrel that broke up after the game ended. The Internet viral sites, like youtube, were the battlefield for the insults war. Turks had already created videos boasting their success, some videos were just to celebrate victory (very common), while others were trying to insult Greeks or to degrade them. Greeks of course would’t be idle bystanders. They retaliated and the flame war started and blossomed. The interesting fact was that most of them in their comments made no sense whatsoever. They were calling using foul language and everything in their disposal to make their point. For your information go to http://www.youtube.com/ and search for GREECE TURKEY.
Is this the future, to quarrel with the Turks in every corner and aspect of life? Do we let history blind us by looking at the past and not being constructive at all? In life a person can have 2 choices, either go forward on his path and create a new road map or look behind him, let the world go on while he ostensibly thinks about the past and previous glories.
The world changes constantly so one shouldn’t let the past be your guide, but learn from it. When I will try to have a debate about Turkey I get scolded by “good” Greeks who remind me that our ancestors gave their blood so I could enjoy my life. Probably true but human history is filled with wars. What these Guardians of National pride say can be true, but they never offer a viable alternative. They like the status quo, where Turks are the bad people and Greeks are always the victims. It is easy to give blame when you look outside the window and give praise when looking in the mirror. Do not look at what others are doing wrong, search for what you can do right.
I wouldn’t mind if only uneducated Greeks were feeling that way, but I know people that are at university and will travel to Constantinople (Istanbul since 1453 whether you like it or not) only when it is Greek again (YES people say that). Reality check: No this will not happen.
Another counter-argument “nationalistic” Greeks use is the “let them change first” argument. I am not trying to say that Turks are the best but at issue is what we can do to improve this situation. In business if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. In this case how do we improve the relationship? By calling each other names and still grumbling about what happened 400 years ago? For better or for worse history cannot be changed. A country though may change and shape the next generation's future.
I was raised in Greece, and believe me in that environment is really difficult to be objective when it comes to Turkey. It took a lot of spiritual maturity to see things from a different point of view. The prevailing mentality among a lot of citizens is what is Bad for Turkey is Good for Greece. I do not share this mentality. Cooperation can bring huge benefits to everyone.
Of course politicians like to have an “enemy” to keep their subjects under tight control. A foreign enemy always unites the people and diverts attention to insignificant issues. Politics are complicated. It takes a lot of energy to overcome past suspicions but this is all a matter of culture and education. I do not know anybody that was raised without having a negative stance about Turkey. The media fuel this craze and of course our lovely Church HELLAS CEO, Mr Paraskevaidis, capitalizes on the anti-Turkey sentiment. At the army they were promoting books about the Evil Turkish imperialistic empire. Our sergeant would always tell us about how we should be prepared to defend our glorious nation from the devil next door. Fortunately war is something really important to be left to the hands of Hawks.
Reality is like abstract art; everybody looks at it and perceives what he wants to perceive. When I look at Turkey I see a country, market, with over 70 million people, a city that’s on the rise, cheap labour, proximity to Europe, oil pipelines, young population, high growth rates, tourism and rising companies. This is the picture I have, a country on the rise. Yet there’s poverty and illiteracy but Turkey’s star is on the rise. It is a very attractive market and the population is expanding. Greek companies who share more or less the same culture(cuisine) stand to reap huge benefits by investing in Turkey. They already are. Of course the Turks are clever; imports to Greece have skyrocketed so the people who are anti-Turks may now be wearing clothes made in turkey, eating fruit form Turkey and using any other product manufactured there.
Globalisation and trade; you cannot beat it or stop it. You may lose the train and never have a chance to get the next one. As long as you look forward this will be path to walk and create value. The other choice is to participate in the insults war and feel proud while you are at it.