Independence Day and the Current Greek-Turkish Relationship Through the Eyes of a Greek Hero

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Aris Anagnos at his office in Los Angeles

Like the Greeks who fought in 1821 for Greece’s independence against the Ottoman Empire, Greek-American Aris Anagnos shares the spirit of revolution against world’s injustices.

Anagnos was born in Greece and came to the States in 1946 after he served in the Greek army in World War II. He was only a young boy in his final year of high school when the war broke out in Greece. He decided to sell all his family’s valuables in order to go to the Middle East and join the resisting forces. Anagnos fought for Greece at the time of war and continued to fight all his life for social justice in Hellenic issues. He is also an activist for peace in Kosovo and Serbia, and for human rights movements in Latin America.

Upon his return to Greece in 1945, Anagnos worked for the UN where he befriended his boss, a Navajo Indian, who suggested he leave for America. The Indian gave him a letter of recommendation and an affidavit of support to leave his life in Greece behind and begin his new journey to America.

Bus boy and Dishwasher were among his first jobs upon arriving in the States. “Eventually a Greek connection led me to work at the clearing house of a bank, meanwhile I was studying at UCLA.” He later began selling insurance and finally got into real estate which is where he was extremely successful.

He is one of the founders of the American Hellenic Council, which was originally formed to protect Cyprus. “In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus. When we heard the news here in Los Angeles we met at Agia Sophia and we formed the save Cyprus Council in order to fight for justice in the Cyprus problem. We began doing demonstrations and some lobbying in congress that we still continue to this day. Later on we renamed the organization the American Hellenic council.”

Anagnos has been lobbying for the issue since the very beginning. “The US had imposed an embargo on army equipment to Turkey until they withdrew the troops from Cyprus. The president who lifted the embargo and betrayed us was President Carter. He told us that as soon as he lifts the embargo, Turkey will take the troops from Cyprus. Of course this was a lie.”

Although the United States was generous to Aris Anagnos; he remains a loyal servant of his country. He remembers growing up in Greece and learning about the atrocities of the Turks during the war.

According to Anagnos, the Cyprus issue will not be resolved with the help of the American government because it has been deceived in being very pro-Turkish. Greece has been a constant ally of the United States in both the first and second World War. Turkey was with the enemy of the U.S.in WWI and assited the Germans while remaining “neutral” in WWII. He is personally against Greece’s support to Turkey’s succession into the European Union if Greece is not gaining anything in return. “I think the solution of the Cyprus issue should lies with the European Union.

In honor of Greek Independence Day, Aris asks Greeks to remember the past and to not forget because “the past has been too brutal and we have suffered too much”. Mr. Anagnos’ grandfather came from the village of Litohoro. “During the Ottoman Empire they went to Smyrna. During the 1923 disaster, when Turkey destroyed the city of Smyrna and its Greek population, they came back as refugees together with another million people. When I was a kid there were slums very close to the center of Athens where the refugees lived. They were refugees like that all over Greece. It took too much time for these refuges to be assimilated. And how can you forget the invasion of Cyprus? Even if we want to forget 400 years of Turkish occupation in 1974 they reminded us of the atrocities of the past when they invaded the island and killed so many people.”

Anagnos thinks that the most progressive people in Turkey will eventually push for the Turkish government to make the sacrifices needed and join the European Union. “Turkey has to make some sacrifices to join the Union against the favor of the army and some Turks. However, the business society wants progress and economic growth which will only come if Turkey joins the EU.”


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3 COMMENTS

  1. The views of this man are very understandable but equally very one sided. The situation in Cyprus prior to the Tukish intervention was one of despair. For approx 11 years Makarios, Grivas and nicos sampson had brutalised the Turkish Cypriots.the original treaty was changed by Makarios so in effect the republic of cyprus ceased to exist in its original form. The turkish population were subjected to an attempt at Genocide by the greek backed army and politicians. This resulted in the turkish Cypriots being hounded into enclaves. The greeks were so keen to enable Enosis , Union with Greece that they even killed their own who opposed them. The turkish army invaded to save the Turkish Cypriots. What else could they do? . Their has been peace on the island since then.Lets hope the peace remains. Many older Turkishmen could speak as does the subject of the article but with an obvious different standpoint

  2. I read the article in the Greek reporter and I share many views of Mr. Aris Anagnos. I am a post war two immigrant in Canada from Cyprus. I witnessed most of inter communal troubles until 1967,most of which were caused from unfair and unbalanced British imposed constitution of the infamous 1959 Zurich and London "agreements" in which the 80% of the Greek Cypriot population of Cyprus took no part Cypriot and the British took advantage and favoured the 18% of Turkish Cypriot minority with disproportional positions and rights up to 40 % in government positions in the running affairs of newly formed Republic of Cyprus in 1960, which in fact divided Cyprus on paper ,so the British could ruled the strategic island of Cyprus at a later date.When Makarios proposed some constitutional amendments in the late fall of 1963, the Turkish Cypriots under orders from Turkey, resorted to mutiny against the Cyprus republic and we have troubles since 1964 when Turkey partly invaded bombed Cyprus and withdrew from the international ,UN, and US pressure against it, Finally the American Acheson plan failed to materialize in the fall of 1964 .

    Turkey invaded Cyprus when the golden opportunity was given to it by the treacherous Greek junta coup against Makarios on July 15/1974, and Turkey invaded and destroyed the Greek ,cultural and religious heritage and desecrated more than 500, Greek Christian Orthodox Churches, stole ,and vandalized the Greek Cypriot ancient monuments Turkey committed the ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Greek Cypriots . Unfortunately the injustice inflicted upon Cyprus since 1959/1963/1964/1967/1974/ 2004 Koffi Anan plan, until today reminds us for the atrocious acts,and eradication of Millions of Greeks from their ancestral homes and land in Asia Minor Since the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks of end of May 1453, .Turkey wants to join the EU but it refuses to abide by the laws of the EU and Turkey refuses to allow the Greek Cypriot vessels and Airplanes to enter Turkey's ports and airports making thus a mockery out of the EU protocol which it signed. We believe that Turkey has no European roots , we hope that if Turkey joins the EU will change its polemic behaviour against Greeks. Unfortunately from Turkey's behaviour and aggression acts against the Greek islands in the Aaegean,and the Geek people and the threats against the Patriarch in Turkey, and the 45,000 occupation Attila army which Turkey keeps illegally and contrary to the UN and security council resolutions since 1974 reminds us of the barbaric acts and the torture inflicted upon Greeks during the harsh years of the infamous Ottoman empire since 1453 until the Greek revolution of 1821 which resulted to the Liberation of Greece from the Turks. Today we pay tribute to the Greek Heroes for their sacrifice and we celebrate the Freedom of Greece of 1821, but we remind everybody not to forget the INJUSTICE , CATASTROPHE ,ETHNIC CLEANSING of 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their ancestral home land in Cyprus by Turkey. Our soul will not rest until we get JUSTICE , FUNCTIONAL, and DEMOCRATIC solution in Cyprus ONE MAN ONE VOTE.

    Sincerely E. Nondas

  3. Why does not this man fight against injustices committed in Greece? Obviously that's not his vocation. He is simply an extreme nationalist as most Greek-Americans political activists are.

    It is quite known the Greece oppression against its ethnic minorities: Turks (recognized only as "Muslims"), Macedonia/Slavs (not recognized), Albanian/Arvanitis (not recognized) etc. You cannot find a job in Greece unless you convert to Orthodox Christianity.

    How shameful of EU asking the new countries to meet the same standards that Greece, currently a member, has consistently violated.

    In 1948, 200,000 Albanian civilians known as "Chams" were forcibly deported from Greece. Their properties were confiscated and their graves destroyed. Athens never apologized for this genocidal act, has refused to pay retributions and adds salt to injury by calling the women and children who died in the imposed Calvary towards Albanian border "Nazi allies".

    And then Mr. Nondas and Co have the courage to talk about Turkish ethnic cleansing. Talk about throwing the first stone.

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