chapter  2
25 Pages

The Greek–Turkish antagonism

The social construction of self and other
ByAlexis Heraclides

The Greek–Turkish antagonism is one of very few instances – perhaps the only case in modern history– where both sides have become independent nation-states following an extended armed struggle against the 'Other'. The depiction of the Turks as ‘barbarians’, on the rampage prone to commit ugly acts, is an essential ingredient of Greek self-image and identity. The modern Greeks as self-defined 'Europeans' could hardly miss the opportunity to appropriate that aspect of the package as well and proclaim themselves the 'vanguard of a European civilization fighting against the barbarians'. Greek cultural arrogance and megalomania knows few bound, yet it conceals an existential insecurity that breeds defensive nationalism. The Turks return the Greek compliment regarding barbarity and backwardness. The main Turkish concern that is the cause of intense insecurity is the ‘fear of loss of territory’. From the perspective of the study of international relations, Greek–Turkish relations are in need of a drastic paradigm shift.