In our previous work, we talked about the fact that the struggle of Christianity within itself is perhaps more intense and bloody than its struggle with other religions, and that its effects are clearly seen in the power struggles we are still experiencing. In this context in general, it can be said that Protestant thought tries to influence Catholic and Orthodox faith, and Catholic thought on Orthodoxy. At this point, the country that should be emphasized is Greece.
What made Greece privileged among the Balkan countries and why was Greece placed in a different position within the Orthodox world?
The answer to this question can be reached by a proper analysis of the founding process of Greece and by examining the concepts of Greece-like, external nation-building processes.
The word nationality conceptually denotes a commitment to a meaningful whole. In this sense, the definition of nationalism can be defined as a way of revealing an attitude and behavior in favor of belonging (Akova and Kantar, 2020: 205). On the other hand, this expression means to apply this principle in the political, social, and economic fields, based on a cultural thought with reference to the nation (Yanık and Kara, 2016: 558-559). Conceptually, nationalism expresses commitment to a meaningful whole and shapes the culture and ideology of the community. However, there should not be an obvious mistake at this point of formation. If these concepts are formed and directed by the core elements of that nationality, they shape the life ideal and future of that society, but if they are created with a superior mind and imperialist pressure and will, this future cannot be created, and social traumas and troubles continue to be experienced.
Nationalism and the nation-building process can be explained a little more. Philosopher and social anthropologist Gellner (1925-1995), considered among the most powerful intellectuals of the last century, defines nationalism; inventing nations for a place where they do not exist, rather than an awakening towards the self-consciousness of nations (Gellner, 1983: 168). According to him, nationalism, a product of modern conditions, is a coincidence of state and culture (Gellner, 1983: 1). On the other hand, Indonesian-born Anglo-Irish origin, American political scientist Benedict Anderson (1936-2015) interprets nationalism, albeit unconsciously, from creating an object and classifying it as an ideology, revealing the error of not considering it together with facts such as "kinship" and "religion". According to Anderson, while creating an artificial nation, it is necessary to imagine the creation of cultural phenomena and to shape the sense of belonging. Because nationalism, when properly organized and presented to the society, can be equivalent to phenomena such as religion and kinship (Anderson, 2014: 20).
Regarding the concept, Ernest Hobsbawn (1917-2012) points out the importance of the political dimension in the modernization process (Hobsbawn, 1990: 1) and emphasizes the efforts of nations to maintain their connections with the past through the traditions they invented. According to him, this connection is often disconnected from historical continuity, and many are artificially created by mythical sentiments such as cultural purity. In fact, these myths are created by nationalism itself. In this way, it is ensured that social groups move around a certain set of symbols in a controlled manner with cultural elements that are loaded with new values and meanings. According to Hobsbawn, this externally invented culture has three main qualities. These; It is the organization and development of basic education, as well as the creation of mass ceremonies and public monuments (Hobsbawn, 1990: 2-5). Here, the organization of basic education has a privileged priority. Thus, different identities are singularized within the society and a sense of belonging is developed with the magnificent ceremonies held in mass, and finally, a mass communication is created with the monumental symbols that did not exist in the past and were invented for the present.
In this process, it is also important to find or artificially create political elites with the potential to control the movement (Breuilly, 1996: 165). In this sense, it is possible for the elites to use the society for the interests of other countries in line with non-religious and non-religious goals (Hüseynova, 2008: 92).
It is known that the conflict between the Catholic and Orthodox sects in Christianity dates back to Middle Ages. This situation is also valid for the settlements in the Sea of Islands (Aegean Sea), Catholic Latins with the Crusade IV, they had also taken under their control some of the islands where Orthodox Christians live intensely since 1204, and this situation led to the emergence of religious belief-based social divisions in the Eastern Mediterranean (Küçük, 2001: 5). For example, there are many documents showing that the Cyclades (Cyclades islands are a group of islands located southeast of Athens) under Ottoman rule were the scene of conflicts and struggles between Catholic Latins and Orthodox Greeks (Demircan, 2009: 671-680).
Another issue is the efforts to gain control over the Orthodox faith. Although the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in 1774, was controversial, it was the first time that a foreign power given the right to protect the Orthodox Christian subjects in the Ottoman Empire (Brewer, 2011: 135). The treaty also gave Eastern Orthodox Christians the right to sail under the Russian flag. Russia wanted to keep the Orthodox under its control in order to achieve its political goals and was working in this direction. This made the British very uncomfortable.
In fact, it was Serbs who were Orthodox like the Russians (1804), who started the first uprising in the Balkans. In 1821, the Greeks revolted against the Ottoman Empire. Committed to preserving the status quo established by the Congress of Vienna (1815), the European powers initially supported the Ottomans (Edouard, 1919). The British foreign policy in this period was mainly based on “how to keep the Russians away from the Balkans” (Brewer, 2011: 250). On the other hand, for the British, the safety of the road to India in the Mediterranean was a priority, and it would not be bad to establish a country like Greece with the Orthodox faith under their control for the safety of this road.
The sudden death of the Russian Tsar at the end of 1825 and the replacement of Nicholas, moreover, the rebellion started against him presented this opportunity to the British. Lord Strangford, the British ambassador in St. Petersburg, was quick to inform England that the young emperor Nicholas did not care at all about the Greeks (Brewer, 2011: 256). Thereupon, the British government, on the pretext of congratulating an experienced diplomat Nicholas on the throne, went to St. Petersburg, and between the British and the Russians on April 4, 1826, "St. Petersburg Protocol” was signed. This Protocol covered the establishment of Greece. In fact, the Russians had been tricked, and as time went on, this would become more evident.
The Austrian Chancellor Matternich showed the greatest reaction to this protocol and completely rejected it. Because with this protocol, the congress system in Europe was disappearing. The Catholic Irish were against the British, and Matternich angrily had asked, "Then is England ready to see the Irish rulers as a power equal to the English King?". Like Austria, Prussia was against the protocol. France, on the other hand, was experiencing a dilemma. With the Petersburg Protocol, the British and the Russians were united, and France would either fight them in this region or join them to protect its interests in the region, including Egypt. In Egypt, Mehmet Ali Pasha trusted France. He started to implement the French systems, gave the training of his army to the French, and bought his weapons and equipment from the French by paying large sums. But all this meant nothing to France and would not hesitate to confront Egypt at the first opportunity. It was also known that France, which already had a Catholic faith, destroyed nearly 30 thousand Protestants in its country in a few weeks when the king ordered the massacre in 1572 (Smither, 1991: 27:46), but on the other hand, it acted in its own interest in matters of faith, and it happened again.
On 6 July 1827 in London, France; Along with the British and Russians, signed the “Treaty of London”, based on the “Petersburg Protocol”, and 3 months later, they burned the Turkish and Egyptian joint navy in Navarin on October 20, 1827, gaining the right to control Greece, whose influence survives to this day. With this agreement, France also made an agreement with the British and achieved the position of being the only one in acquiring colonies in the north and south of Africa's Sahel Region. The Kingdom of Greece was also established in 1830, again in London, during the negotiations between the 3 countries. France had already occupied Algeria in the same year (1830) not long after. Prior to this, the Russian attack on Ottoman lands was also supported by the British. After this date, it will be seen that the British constantly supported the Russians to attack the Ottoman lands over time. The main purpose here was to weaken both states by clashing the Russian and Ottoman forces with each other, and the Russians came to this trick every time. The influence of the Russians on Orthodox Greece, on the other hand, became uncertain over time.
It is seen that the great powers that want to establish dominance over a country generally apply the following stages.
- First, that country is given an attractive and big goal that it cannot achieve with its current population and opportunities (Big Idea: Megali Idea).
- Then a blood feud is created between this country and the dominant people in that region (Turkish massacre in Peloponnese and islands during the Greek uprising).
- The country is indebted (Greece has always been in debt since it started the rebellion movement, even for the future).
- By regulating the country's education system, children are taken under control from the very beginning (Greek education system created by foreigners: 1834).
- Society is controlled by reminding the blood feud created when needed.
- Intellectuals who oppose the created system are neutralized by various methods.
It is clear that all these issues were prepared for Greece from the very beginning, and Greece is a country that can be shown as an example in this control. Ironically, it is the British who do not speak out against what the Greeks have done, and those who announce the massacres of the Greeks to the world. English writer Clair says: “In March 1821, approximately 50,000 Turks lived in the Peloponnese. A month later, while the Greeks celebrated their Easter, not a single Muslim was left. They were completely and unknowingly destroyed”. More than 40 thousand Turks were massacred in just 3 days in Mora. British writer Runciman, on the other hand, emphasizes that this is an act of destruction against Turks and Muslims rather than a war of liberation. The Greek uprising in the Peloponnese ended when there was not a single Turk left to kill as originally planned (Finlay: 1842).
When it comes to loan issue, Greece has struggled for almost 100 years to pay off the debts it received in 1821. Greek borrowing continued and will continue. It is also necessary to evaluate the Greeks' perception of danger around them and their debts with arms sales in this context. Today, the position of a debtor country continues and if it does not take any other debts, it will be in debt until 2050.
The Greek education system, on the other hand, was created by the education law enacted immediately after its establishment and has survived to the present day (ΦΕΚ Α87/1836: 458-473). It goes without saying that this system, which was created in 1834, was also created by foreigners (Acar, 2019: 55) and according to Greek Professor Dimitri Kiçikis (1935-2021), the system, which has not changed much until today, is full of hatred and prejudices. Because those who created the system wanted the Greeks to hate the Turks in order to control them as they wished and to realize their interests in the region. In this way, they are charged so that the country can be populated with foreign bases and soldiers without anyone's objections.
The first king of Orthodox Greece was a 17-year-old Catholic German. When he grew up, he stopped doing what he wanted and was dethroned, and this time replaced by another Danish boy. New King had not forgotten to visit England and France before arrived at Greece and carried on his duty until his death in 1913. The succeeding King was thought to be more pro-German than the British and French. This was never acceptable. The British and the French demanded their debts and weapons back. Fierce clashes broke out in Athens between the Greek army and the British and French soldiers. The problem was that Greece not wanted to join the war on the side of the British and French. A similar situation occurred after the pro-British Venizelos lost the elections in 1920, and the king, Constantine, was deposed by a military coup. After that, Greece was never left to the Greeks.
At the end of the Second World War, with the agreement between Churchill and Stalin known as the "Percentages Agreement", it was determined how Southeast Europe, which has a predominantly Orthodox population, would be divided according to the regions of influence. In fact, this included the sharing of the Orthodox world in a way. As Churchill later stated in a statement he gave to a newspaper (Bell and Gilbert, 2001), Stalin kept his promise and withdrew his support to the Greek communists, leaving this area to the British in return for the concessions he received. After the World War II, the British, who lost their position as a world power, left this responsibility to the USA.
In the USA, religion is still known one of the most influential institutions and religion and religious groups are effective in determining foreign policy as well as building civil society and political culture (Yıldırım, 2015: 91). This is especially emerged prominently after World War II, and the United States clearly wanted to break Russian influence on the Orthodox faith and bring Orthodoxy under its control during the cold war era (See Pearl: 2022). The United States wanted to appoint Archbishop of North-South America, Athinagoras, to orthodox patriarchate and to gain control over the Orthodox faith. For this purpose, then Patriarch Maksimos was accused of being a communist. His illness was brought to the agenda, and he was asked to resign. Patriarch Maksimos, who could not stand the pressure, had to resign in 1948 for the first time in the Republican Period of Türkiye. Despite the Patriarchate's opposition to the appointment of a stranger to this office, Athinagoras was insisted on. One of the main reasons for the opposition was that Athinagoras was not a Turkish citizen. This problem was resolved with the citizenship right granted by the Türk authorities, and Athinagoras, who came to Turkey from the USA with Truman's private plane and was elected as the new Patriarch by winning 11 of 17 games in total. Athinagoras remained in this post until his death in 1972. This was a period when US policies were influential on the Orthodox faith.
Orthodox Russia, which acted together with the British in the establishment of Greece, always had difficulties in realizing its goals. Orthodox Serbia, which started the first uprising in the Balkans in 1804, became independent with the Berlin Agreement in 1878, almost 50 years after the British and French-backed Greece. So much so that even today, the exit of the Serbs to the sea has been closed. Montenegro, which became a part of Yugoslavia after World War I and established a confederation with Serbia after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, left Serbia in 2006. A similar confinement applies to Orthodox Bulgarians. Despite all their efforts, the Orthodox Bulgarians were not allowed to sail to the sea via Aleksandrupoli in the south. The occupation of Ukraine by Russia forms the basis of the conflict between the Orthodox belief systems in Russia and Greece, and it is seen that the separation is increasing day by day.
In Greece, on the other hand, while the influence of religion on society is increasingly limited, the differences of opinion between the Greek administration and the clergy are increasing. Removing the definition of religion from identities and not paying clergy to be paid by the state are the main issues. The belief in Orthodoxy, on the other hand, does not touch on many issues at all and is locked on only one issue, such as enmity against Turks. The same pressure is exerted on intellectual Greeks and academics. It is very difficult for Greece to go beyond the established lines and discourses. Those who come out are somehow excluded or neutralized. The extreme hostility of Greece towards Russia, which is Orthodox like itself, and the fact that it has filled its country with US bases, draws the reaction of Russia and other Orthodox in the region.
In conclusion, since the concepts of nationality and nationalism in Greece were created by superior intelligence and design rather than the Greeks themselves; It should be considered normal to experience difficulties in reflections on political, social and economic fields. While creating and shaping the awareness of belonging within this formation, a process of creating a nation that is disconnected from historical continuity and that can only be used has been experienced. The dream of creating a cultural purity and creating legends, which has nothing to do with centuries ago, remains in the middle because it does not match the facts.
The cultural structure that was invented for Greece from outside is evident in mass ceremonies and public monuments as well as in basic education. Thus, the desired structure penetrates into structures such as non-governmental organizations, media, church, political elites, academics, military and non-governmental organizations in an irrevocable and undeniable way. Thus, on the one hand, a steerable and controllable society is created, on the other hand, the idea of society remains as it was determined centuries ago, thanks to the structure fixed by mass communication and directed towards common enemies.
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