Doctor of History at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Doctor of Economic and Social Sciences at the University of Geneva, Meletis Meletopoulos, gave an interview to IRISTV.gr about international events, with an emphasis on Greek-Turkish issues.
The prolific historian pointed out the pitfalls that bigotry and expediency lead to in the handling of historical events. He also analysed the reasons why Turkey resorts to reversing history and suppressing the identity feelings of the Turkish people themselves.
Meletopoulos referred to the ethno-racial composition of the Turkish state, the inhomogeneity of the people and the "intensity with which the Turkish identity is projected as a counterweight to the fact that there is no Turkish nation in the ethnological sense".
He pointed out that when Turkish citizens realise that their state was created by converted populations, of which Greeks were a large portion, this will have cataclysmic consequences.
"It has become a trend in Turkey lately for Turks, especially young people, to take a DNA test," he said. "The vast majority are Greeks by DNA or partially Greek."
"That means that there is a proportion in the DNA of the Turks with 60% Greek, 90% Greek, proportions like that.
"And this raises the question whether this will have political implications. If the Turks realise that they are Islamisised Greeks of the 11th century, 15th century, 18th century, will this change their identity?
"Let's start from the beginning. In 1310, Isman crossed the Euphrates River with 200 tents. How did they become 80 million people?
"The answer was given by Speros Vryonis Jr., a Havard professor, deceased now, in his book, his classic work 'The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamisation from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century'.
"The book describes the great tragedy of extermination of Hellenism in Asia Minor.
"Some were massacred, some were prosecuted and some were forcibly converted to Islam. Today's Turkish population consists mostly of converted peoples, namely Greeks, Armenians and other races.
"Therefore, the intensity that the Turkish identity is promoted is counterbalancing the fact that there is no Turkish nation in the ethnological sense.
"There is the ruling class that Ataturk created and most of its members are not Turks. Ataturk himself was not full-blooded Turks, was he? We very well know that his mother was Albanian and so on.
"This is true for some of the current Turkish leaders too.
"The question arises even for Erdogan himself: whether he is of Pontic Greek origin later converted to Islam. He is from a village in Pontus called Potamia [Greek for 'village village'], the old Rizunda.
"I have heard that Cavusoglu is of Kurdish origin.
"In other words, there is some ambiguity surrounding the ethno-racial identity of today's Turkish rulers. The counterbalance to this ambiguity is the extreme fierceness on the way they promote the Turkish identity.
"So, this Turkish nationalism is the overcompensation of the Turks' awareness that they are not Turks.
"Mongols, let's say, are very few numerically. The others are native populations who were forcibly converted to Islam.
"Will there be a consequence from grasping that they are not ethnologically Turks and that most of them are Greeks converted to Islam in the 11th, 15th or 17th century?
"Will it have an impact to the current identity and attitude of the Turks?
"My answer is that as long as the Turkish state remains strong in this region, it will have no impact. If the Turkish state suffers a blow to its spine, then the leaks will begin. They will start trying to look for a new point of reference.
"And for a large part of the Turkish population, the point they will look for, to which they will turn, will be the Greek Orthodox tradition and the concept of Greece because many of them know that their grandfather's grandfather's grandfather's grandfather, seven generations back, eight generations back, was a Greek who became a Muslim.
"And this will possibly trigger the attempt for their roots. Then, the consequences will be cataclysmic."
Ancestry.com highlighted that many Turkish citizens are mostly unrelated to Turkic peoples from Central Asia and are rather native Anatolian people that have been Turkified.
The largest for-profit genealogy company in the world noted that after the Ottoman conquest of Pontos in today’s Turkey’s southeastern Black Sea coast, the “Pontian Greeks adopted Turkish language and culture, and many converted to Islam in order to have greater opportunities in Turkish society.”
Because of this, the so-called Turkish DNA Project called for a boycott in a now deleted tweet.
Ancestry.com also highlighted that another round of Turkification of Pontian Greeks occurred after the second Russo-Turkish War (1828-29).
With the advent of genetic testing, more and more Turkish citizens and diaspora communities are discovering that they are actually Turkified peoples, mostly pointing towards Greek.
More Turkish citizens are discovering that they are in fact not Turkish.
It is for this reason that the role of the so-called Turkish DNA Project is to create doubt among those who do genetic testing from legitimate companies like Ancestry.com and discovery that they are in fact not Turkic.
A famous case of a Turkish citizen discovering they are Greek is Yannis Vasilis Yaylalı, born Ibrahim Yaylalı.
Yannis was a former Turkish ultra-nationalist that was proud of his enmity towards Kurds and other indigenous peoples of Asia Minor.
However, he soon discovered he was actually Greek, became Christian and then became an activist for minorities in Turkey despite originally joining the Turkish Army to kill them, as reported byThe Armenian Weekly.
Uzay Bulut, a Turkey-born journalist, also responded to the call by the Turkish DNA Project to boycott Ancestry.com.
“Why are Turkish nationalists so terrified of the truth? Because if they face it, the lies they’ve come up with will be shattered to the ground,” she said on Twitter.
“Through these lies, hatred has grown which made them commit so many crimes against Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews and others,” Bulut said.
“Then they will realize that by destroying those peoples, they’ve actually destroyed their own ancestors and cultural heritage,” the journalist said, adding: “The truth will set us all free and bring much needed peace to the region.”
Then they will realize that by destroying those peoples, they've actually destroyed their own ancestors and cultural heritage. The truth will set us all free and bring much needed peace to the region.
— Uzay Bulut (@bulutuzay_) May 31, 2021