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Immigrations to Turkey from Greece Between 1911 and 1923

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Immigrations to Turkey from Greece between 1911 and 1923

In 1911, 51% of the Ottoman Europe (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro) population was Muslim but with emigrations, it downed to minorities of Muslims in some territories (McCarthy, 1995). Most of these immigrations were forced immigrations. If person immigrate, because she does not have the minimum basic needs in domicile that called forced immigration (Ð"Ñœpek, 2000). Forced immigrations are not only the problem of present days but with twentieth century, forced immigration becomes a legal issue. Forced immigrations have an objective that to un-mix the population of the selected territories or to homogenise the territories (Barutciski, 2004). Homogenous communities are easier than mixed ones to be controlled and homogenous communities are less likely to have intercommunity conflicts. Thus forced immigrations are the reason of consolidating political power. "BÐ"јyÐ"јk MÐ"јbadele" or 1923 exchange of Greek and Turkish populations was not the first attempt to formalise the population exchange but it is one of the earliest and most controversial international treaties on this subject (Barutciski, 2004) and the first internationally ratified compulsory population exchange. With the convention concerning the exchange of Greek and Turkish populations at Lausanne, after 1st May 1923 Muslims in Greek territories and Greek Orthodox in Turkish territories were compulsorily exchanged except Muslims in Western Trace and Greeks in Istanbul. 1.5 million Greek and Turk were forced to leave their homelands. There is a difference between Greek movement and Turkish movement; Greeks mostly emigrate with retreating Greek army as a result of Greek rout in 1922 and without waiting permission, but most of the Turks emigrate after the convention. More than 1 million Greek escaped from Turkey before convention of population exchange (ArÐ"Ð..., 1995). According to official record of the Mixed Commission only 189.916 Greek were transferred to Greece after 1923 convention but 354.647 Turks transferred in this period (Hirshchot, 2004). There were not many Turks who immigrate in 1922 because, for Turkish immigrants the 1923 exchange is the only way to escape from Greek oppression in that period. The term "refugee" is not suitable for these groups as defined in international laws because they were immediately granted full citizenship. The term that is used in Turkish is "Muhacir" to refer to people who forcibly leave their homeland and enter the Ottoman Empire and Turkey and specifically the word "MÐ"јbadil" is referring to the 1923 exchange (Hirshchot, 2004). This article put forward that, as reasons, which lay behind the population exchange, nationalistic ideologies of both Turkish and Greek governments were more important than Turkey's economic benefits from that exchange and as consequences, one can claim that measures of Turkish government solved the problems of Muhacirs and MÐ"јbadils and provide reasonable life conditions, on the contrary, immigrants faced many problems that could not solved by Turkish government.

Some people may argue that reason, which makes Turkish government enthusiastic about the population exchange, was lack of workforce in Turkey after the War of Independence (Ð"ÑœstiklÐ"Ñžl Harbi) and Turkish government wanted to benefit from immigrants to rise up Turkish economy. The Ottoman population census of 1906 shows that within the borders of present-day Turkey the population was 15 million. However, after the Balkan Wars, the First World War and the War of Independence population within the same region reduced to 13.6 million in 1927 (Aktar, 2004) because of casualties in wars, immigrations of non-Muslim minorities and decrease in birth-rate for the reason that most of the young men were in the army. Because of this decrease in population, agricultural production in year 1923 retrograded to 1913 production levels and at those days agricultural production was the most important income (Ð"Ñœpek, 2000). However, with the population exchange, Turkish government and Turkish inhabitants faced some problems with Muhacirs and MÐ"јbadils and this cost more than benefits from immigrants. Between 1877-78 War and 1914, total budget that was spent for Muhacirs is 215 million KuruÐ"Ñ* and this amount of money nearly equal to total foreign dept of Ottoman Empire (AkdaÐ"o, nd). As Aktar mentioned, after 1923, Turkish Government spent nearly 1 million pound for settlement and other needs of immigrants (2004). After the abandonment of Greek people from Turkey, many people settled house and fields of Greeks and in cities, some property of Greeks hired for officials. With the arrival of the MÐ"јbadils, government force Turkish inhabitants to leave Greek properties and that caused conflicts because Turkish government planned to distribute that property to immigrants (Ð"Ñœpek, 2000). In those days, Turkish inhabitants had many problems too, taking away what they have, made some of them angry and they externalised Turkish immigrants.

However, the real reasons that lay behind the immigration, firstly, reasons that forced governments to sign this convention must be described and the motivation of the MÐ"јbadils must be signalled. Dr. RÐ"Ð Nur, who was the person signs the Lausanne with Ð"Ñœsmet Ð"ÑœnÐ"¶nÐ"ј, put forward that in a TBMM session, there were two reasons that make population exchange indispensable. First one is the population policy of Greece, they tried to eliminate Turkish population in an oppressive way to make Greece homogenous and the second one is to make Turkey ethnically homogenous and gain a population that was very valuable for Turkey as workforce (Ð"Ñœpek, 2000). Dr. RÐ"Ð Nur thinks that the most important one is to get rid of Greek population in Turkey (1992) but one must remember that Dr. RÐ"Ð Nur was an extreme nationalist. First aim of the 1923 exchange for Nur was to rescue Turkish population in Greece from harsh conditions. After First World War, there was no change in Greece population policy; as they did after the Balkan Wars (1912-13) Greek government had forced Turks to immigrate. They arrested Turks for claims about resistance movements, raided villages on the pretext of searching weapon and wounded or murdered people under torture (Ð"Ñœpek, 2000). Secondly, as seen in his memoirs, Nur stated Greeks as a threat (Aktar, 2004):

The most important was the liberation of Turkey from the elements, which through the centuries had weakened her either by organising rebellions or by being domestic extensions of foreign states. Hence the making of the country uniformly TurkishÐ'... was a huge



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