Zülfü Livaneli & Yassar Kemal
Dear Yassar and Zülfü,
For the second time in six months, Turkey’s Prime Minister with his wife, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a large number of other government officials arrived in Athens yesterday, in order to discuss with their Greek counterparts in the framework of the ‘Supreme Cooperation Council’.
If we look back at 1986, when we founded the first Committee for the Greek-Turkish Friendship in Istanbul, we can see that in the meantime a huge step has been made in the relations between our two peoples, one that we could only expect as a miracle back then.
Still, despite the constant contacts, ministers dancing zeimbekiko and prime ministers becoming best men in family weddings, not even the slightest progress has been made; at least not in major issues that continue to separate our two countries, such as the Aegean, Cyprus and so many more.
I read the Greek press today, after the first meeting of the two prime ministers, and I see that it reflects the feelings of wariness, suspiciousness and mistrust as to Turkey’s secret aspirations and plans. Everybody smiles on camera, but when the lights go out they are skeptical and frowning, as if discussions were only held for reasons of internal consumption, as if they were just empty talk buying time for each party at the expense of the other.
As for the Greek public opinion, especially after Davutoğlu’s book and the overall rise of Turkey, it becomes more and more frightened every day and the scenarios about Turkish imperialistic aspirations against our country become more and more credible. The old myth about the ‘threat from the East‘ is rekindled, taking us back to the ‘80s when, on my return to Athens after the foundation of our Committee, the Centre-Left (PASOK) and the Left accused me in one word as a ‘traitor’ and for months their press instruments hurled mudslinging and venomous slurs at me every day…
The question, therefore, is this: since there is no real intention of finding a definitive solution to our differences, why have our leaderships changed their attitude with constant meetings, exchanging of compliments, becoming best men and founding Supreme Councils? And all this only on the outside, while deep down both sides stand firmly in their positions? What else can we think, if not that beyond and above our two governments there is a superpower pulling all the strings, one day bringing us close together and the next turning us against each other? And can this power be any other that the USA, a country that unfortunately can easily play cat and mouse with us? Is it not a pity, is it not shameful for two peoples with such long history and deeply-rooted traditions to be unable to counter their own will and interests to those of the superpower, especially when the latter is currently in a period of dangerous imperialistic aggressiveness on all fronts? In Middle East they send bombs and death. In Europe they impose financial crisis and impoverishment.
As far as we are concerned, who knows what their plans are for the Aegean, Cyprus, Thrace, “Great Albania” and “Great Macedonia” (Skopje) and most of all for oil deposits. You remember that in 1975 I had suggested the foundation of a Greek-Turkish company for the joint exploitation of oil deposits in the Aegean. I had then received high-level information that beneath the Aegean lays a large oil-sea, which the Americans hastily labeled as their strategic reserve that was to remain a secret until the time came for them to use it for their own needs. It was therefore forbidden for Greece and Turkey to perform joint research, since the morphology of the Aegean with the two continents and the islands in-between creates complex problems in terms of settling the two countries’ respective rights in the continental shelf area.
But it is only a fact of common sense to understand that if there is a vast oil-tank beneath the Aegean, from the Turkish coast to the shores of continental Greece, and if a hole is to be drilled offshore Izmir or Piraeus, they would both meet in the same tank! Therefore if this oil deposit does exist, the mere fact of its existence should unite us, so that our two countries can be the ones to benefit from it (in jointly determined percentages) instead of strangers. In the meantime, friendship will relieve us from the burden of military expenditures and help us find just solutions to our pending problems, replacing suspiciousness with trust; for I believe that there is no severer disease for a people than fear and hatred. Only if we realize that, wiling or not, we have to live side by side for thousands of years will we see that it is not only harmful but, I should say, stupid and inferior for two peoples like ours to choose to live with quarrels that prevent them from living together in a peaceful, civilized, amicable way that would ensure them both peace of mind and protect their interests.
Is it not shameful indeed to let ourselves be dragged to cockfights by strangers, allowing them to rub their hands while saying to each other ‘These two are retarded, scared, underdeveloped people; the more we take advantage of them to our own best interest, the more they quarrel to win our favour, each of them trying to be the most obedient child’. Indeed, until today our honourable Greek and Turkish pashas have been taking turns in running to the Great Sultan to the Sublime Gate, the White House, to pay their respects, kiss his gold shoes and pledge their loyalty, obedience and eagerness to follow his orders.
This is why, my dear brothers, the path of true rapprochement can only pass through the will of our peoples. Just like then, 24 years ago, when we -Greeks and Turks- decided to shake hands and appealed to our peoples to do the same. Now, more than ever, is the time for young people to come forward and continue our work. And it should be easier now since our governments –even though as a matter of form- profess themselves willing to cooperate. Scientists, people of intellect, artists, working people, mayors, journalists, common citizens from both sides must seek to come together and discuss civilly, responsibly and honestly, find the true causes of Evil, brainstorm and come up with proposals for just solutions.
Today the powers of Chaos are on the loose, spreading fear, misery, hatred and death everywhere. And we are in the eye of the Cyclone. If we want to survive as individuals, peoples and countries, it is imperative that both our peoples first of all develop maximum internal cohesion, selecting the best policies and the most capable politicians that can lead each country to progress and prosperity. But this alone is not enough. For all the power it may possess, no country is strong enough to face the monster of Chaos on its own. At least neighbouring countries must set their differences aside and form groups of states that believe in Peace, International Law and Independence of Peoples. The same applies for the Balkans, where the USA and the NATO have already taken to pieces and sunk in poverty a country so strong, proud and prosperous as former Yugoslavia, and now plot to disseminate division and fear in order to break up our region into small fragments of states just like they did with Kosovo. Any country, any people believing that it can escape the hurricane with obedience and flattery to the Great Sultan is horribly mistaken.
We, my dear Yassar and Zülfü, have been privileged to serve divine Harmony not only with Language and Music but also with our ideas, which have one wish and one goal in common: the predominance of Harmony inside every human being and among human beings, inside every people and among all peoples. It is our duty to raise our voices once more today, for tomorrow it may be too late.
I greet you with love
P.S. I will be very glad if you can make this dramatic appeal known to our friends, the Turkish people. If you agree I will do the same, by publishing my letter on the Internet.