In a not so surprising turn of events, self-proclaimed leaders of the Greek community in the United States held a ‘closed press’ meeting with Turkish PM Recep Tagip Erdogan on September 23rd at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City. The usual suspects were all in attendance, the incompetent Archbishop Demetrios, Dr. Antonios Lymperakis head of ‘The Archons of Saint Andrew’, Businessman turned wannabe politician Mr. John Catsimatidis and the Supreme President of AHEPA Mr. John Grossomanides to name just a few.
What was the purpose of this closed door meeting? One would expect it to be geared towards bring up issues which Greeks in America regard as crucial to ethnic Greek rights in Turkey, such as the question of recognition of the Greek, Armenian and Assyrian Genocides or keeping up the pressure to return all confiscated properties from minority groups. Instead, the incompetent and misguided elite of our community chose to bang that tired old drum of begging for the re-opening of the Halki Seminary and praising PM Erdogan for the recent decree, which may return 1% of confiscated properties from minority groups.
How is it possible that Greek-Americans, unlike Armenian and Jewish Americans, have fallen hook line and sinker for Turkey’s newest ploy? Are our ‘leaders’ that naive or is it simply because unlike our Armenian and Jewish friends our ‘leaders’ are not qualified activist minded community organizers, but rather retirees and businessmen looking for a photo-opt to portray themselves as influential individuals.
The decree which has Church officials and businessmen falling over themselves to kiss Prime Minister Erdogan’s feet is supposedly going to return hundreds of properties confiscated from non-Muslim minorities. However, Archbishop Demetrios’ appreciation is a bit premature seeing that the Turkish Parliament still hasn’t adopted this decree nor does it include the hundreds of thousands of private properties that Turkish authorities have confiscated from minority groups.
In fact, when one takes a closer look at Turkey’s newest peace offering to minorities it becomes blatantly obvious that it is more like damage control than a heartfelt attempt to correct the mistakes of past regimes. What many Greek-American organizations and media outlets fail to notice or perhaps intentionally leave out is the fact that only 1% of the confiscated minority properties will be returned. Most of which, are from cases that have already been taken to the European Court of Human Rights, where Turkey would certainly lose.
It, therefore, makes perfect sense that rather than suffer the embarrassment of losing hundreds of lawsuits, which would result in Turkey paying much larger sums of compensation and potentially damage their growing international reputation that the Turkish Government would seek to deal with this situation internally.
ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian said it best when he stated, “Ninety six years after the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians, Greeks, and Syriacs, this decree is a smokescreen to evade the much broader consequences of those brutal acts. The ANCA will expand its outreach to Congress and the Administration to ensure that the Turkish Government comes to terms with its brutal past, respects the religious freedom of surviving Christian communities and returns the fruits of its crime”.
It is time that Greek-American ‘leaders’ wake up and steal a page from the Armenian’s playbook! Enough of the diner dances, meaningless social events and photo-opts. We get it; you’re able to throw a decent party, but how about you start getting serious on our issues that you claim to be advocating. Soft spoken responses and gentle nagging about international law have not and will not produce any change on our issues. While our ‘leaders’ continue to use ineffective methods our enemies continue to gain ground with passionate and aggressive activist minded community organizers. How much longer will Greek America tolerate this nonsense, you don’t thank the mugger for returning a piece of property, which he has stolen from you!
Related Articles and Sources for this piece: