Saturday, May 4, 2013

Greater Greece

Nick Danforth, Georgetown University

This French map shows Greater or Megali Greece at the moment it appeared to have become a reality. In 1919 the British, worried about resistance from Turkish nationalists as well as the possibility that Italian forces would try to seize Izmir, encouraged their allies the Greeks to land troops in Izmir and take possession  of part of Asia Minor. Greeks had long claimed this territory, based both on its Greek-speaking, Orthodox population and its historical importance in the classical age. Famously, the Greek landing coincided with Mustafa Kemal's journey to Samsun, after which he established control of the nascent Turkish nationalist movement. The British were all too eager to see Greek forces try to solidify their territorial gains by advancing into Anatolia to crush the nationalist movement. When this effort failed catastrophically, Greek forces were driven out of Anatolia and ultimately forced to abandon the territory they had gained in Thrace as well. The Bosphorus and Dardanelles, as well as the region around them, are marked here as under international control as per the treaty of Sevres. It is hard to look at this map and not wonder how enduring a Greek victory in 1922 really could have been. Given the geographic and demographic dynamics, would Turkey have inevitably retaken this territory anyways?