Greeks in Turkey
Greeks in Turkey are Greek-speaking Eastern or Greek Orthodox Christians who mostly live in İstanbul and also on the two islands of Imvros and Tenedos, off the western entrance to the Dardanelles. They are the remnants of the estimated 200,000 Greeks who were permitted under the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne to remain in Turkey following the 1923 population exchange, which involved the forcible resettlement of approximately 1.5 million Greeks from Anatolia and Eastern Thrace. The Greek Orthodox population in Istanbul, as of 2006, is estimated at just over 5,000 according to figures presented by Prof. Vyron Kotzamanis to a conference of unions and federations representing the ethnic Greeks of Istanbul. "Ethnic Greeks of Istanbul convene", Athens News Agency, 2 July 2006.
Since 1924 the status of the Greek minority in Turkey has been ambiguous. Most Turks do not accept the country's Greek citizens as their equals. Beginning in the 1930s, the government instituted represive policies forcing many Greeks to emigrate. Examples are the Labour Battalions drafted among non-Muslims during WWII as well as the Fortune Tax (Varlik Vergisi) levied mostly on non-Muslims during the same period. These resulted in financial ruination and death for many Greeks. The exodus was given greater impetus with the Istanbul Pogrom of September 1955 when thousands of Greeks were forced to flee for their lives, eventually reducing the Greek population to about 48,000 by 1965. Although the size of the Greek minority has continued to decline, the Greek citizens of Turkey generally constitute one of the country's wealthiest communities.
- This article contains some text originally adapted from the public domain Library of Congress Country Study for Turkey at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/trtoc.html.