Richard Galpin, BBC correspondent in Athens, writes in an article dated 25 May 2006:
"It is a while ago now, but I vividly remember talking with some British friends here in Athens who are both married to Greek women.
They were all about to fly to Istanbul for a long weekend away... fun, interesting but nothing particularly remarkable.
Unless you are Greek.
Their wives both highly educated and well-travelled were distinctly apprehensive.
For them this would mean crossing a thin red-line and entering the camp of the old enemy.
They would be constantly looking over their shoulders as they wandered through the crowded, chaotic streets of the once-fabled capital of the Ottoman empire."
No, Mr. Galpin, they wouldn’t be constantly looking over their shoulders. Because, nobody would know they were Greek and even if they did, nobody would care they were Greek.
Do you know, Mr. Galpin, that Greeks have always lived in Istanbul? Do you know that even after the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453, the surviving Greek population stayed, they weren’t forced to leave, because the Ottomans didn’t care?
Do you know, Mr. Galpin, that there are several Greek Orthodox churches in Istanbul still in operation?
Do you know, Mr. Galpin, that there are several thousand Greeks (strictly speaking, Turkish citizens of Greek ancestry) living peacefully in Istanbul? Take a look at the picture on this page, Mr. Galpin. Does it look like those people are looking over their shoulders in fear?
Yes, there have been some politically motivated unfortunate incidents in Istanbul mostly in the 1950s. But, no, Mr. Galpin, Greeks visiting Istanbul or any other place in Turkey for that matter, should have nothing to fear now (even after the latest incident over the Aegean), except perhaps their own fear of Turks.
To improve the Turkish-Greek relations, we need more intermingling of the populations, of the common people, of those who were forced to leave their homelands after the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 (see here and here).
What we don’t need is more of this sort of journalistic nonsense. I suggest, Mr. Galpin, that next time you are writing something along these lines, use some common sense and gather some reliable information beforehand so that you will at least sound a little bit more intelligent.