Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Events and Society - Historical


Erdogan's Greek-speaking Vice President of  Cretan origin
by Nick Chiladakis, Journalist - Author - Turkologist (*)



The Turkish journalists who accompanied Bülent Arinç, vice President of the Turkish government and close associate of Prime Minister Erdogan, were greatly surprised when he visited his home town in the region of Attaleia and began to speak in Romaic - that is, Greek - with his relatives, but also with the village children who ran to meet him.

Specifically, according to the Turkish reports (newspapers Hurriet and Milliyet dated 23/9/2012), the Vice President of the Turkish government, Bülent Arinç, recently visited his paternal home town of Boğazkent in the region of Attaleia.

In his village there is an entire suburb with the name Ahmediye. It is where Arinç's parents - and now his relatives - reside, who are Greek-speaking Cretans, as are the remaining inhabitants of the region. Upon arriving at the home of his relative, Ali Aldemir, he began to publicly converse with him in fluent Romaic - that is, Greek - which astounded the Turkish reporters.  He then approached his elderly aunt, with whom he also exchanged a few words in Romaic - naturally without his escorts understanding any of it. 

Arinç remembered his childhood years, when - as he characteristically mentioned - his parents and his relatives would shout out to him as they rose in the morning to go to the fields: "Come out, Hasani!  Come in Hasani!" - typically Greek expressions which had remained in his memory from his childhood.

Then, after greeting the village children and speaking to them in their native language - as the  children also spoke the same, Romaic tongue - he explained to the amazed Turkish reporters that his parents had come to that region of Attaleia from the island of Crete, during the time of the sultan Abdulhamid. "My parents", Arinç stated, "are of Cretan origin, which is why they don't know any Turkish at all, and at home, they spoke only Greek."  He also informed them that other relatives of his - also Greek-speaking Cretans - had settled in the region of Samframpoli and the neighbouring region of Alaneia.

It is a known fact from historical studies also, that the overwhelming majority of the so-called "Turco-Cretans" were islamized Romanics. That is the reason they were not in the least familiar with the Turkish language, while their religious awareness was very lax, often confusing Orthodoxy with Islam. Characteristically, the well-known Ottoman Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi in one of his books that refers to Crete, mentions "the existence of 7000 bourmas (islamized Romaics), who accepted the religion of Islam en masse; of others who rejected it and fled to the mountains of Sfakia and remained subjugated, and of several thousand panicked Greek soldiers, who gave themselves up to the enemy and also acceded to its religion."

Also according to the British botanist, Aubyn Trevor-Battye, "The Turks of Crete by not being actual Turks but Christian apostates - are not interested in the Prophet. The real Turks - the ones who comprised the army that took over the island - departed, while those who remained and called themselves Turks are in fact Cretans in appearance and besides, they speak the Cretan language.  Very few of the Turco-Cretans that I had encountered knew enough Turkish, while many - perhaps most of them - did not obey the Koran, as they drank wine freely."

Generally speaking, many well-known Greek authors have written about the so-called Turco-Cretans, but also about the crypto-Christians of Crete, while the saga of the Kormoulis family is also very familiar - that large Turco-Cretan family who with the first opportunity revealed that they were crypto-Christians and returned to their paternal faith, and who also fought against the Ottoman army during the Hellenic Revolution of 1821.  One is also impressed by the fact that, despite the many years after the time that the so-called Turco-Cretans left Crete, they still continue to speak the Greek Cretan dialect, that their descendants have not forsaken Crete, and that they feel themselves to be more Cretan than anything else.


(*) Turkology (Turkish: Türkoloji), also Turcology or Turkologie, is a complex of humanities sciences studying languages, history, literature, folklore, culture, and ethnology of people speaking Turkic languages and Turkic peoples in chronological and comparative context. This includes ethnic groups from the Turks (Turkish People), Sakha in East Siberia to the Balkan Turks and Gagauz in Moldova.


Translation:  K.N.

Article published in English on: 26-9-2012.

Last update: 26-9-2012.