Yesterday, I was looking at a map of Greece. I mean, a physical, real, paper map, not a virtual, internet, Google map. It was a map on a very small scale covering all of Greece as well as its islands. But it was still so large, I had to take it both hands.
That’s when I noticed that Greece really oes have a very, very large number of islands. If the map had shown only mainland Greece and its closest islands, it would have been half the size.
That got me thinking. Does Greece really need all these islands? I hate to sound like an accountant, rationalizing away a country’s islands. But I did a quick estimate of the cost of all these far flung islands, especially on the boundary to Turkey, and of their return. I wonder whether the costs of these islands are worth it, especially if they become a source of conflict to Turkey.
Should Greece go too war over an island like Imia as Globalist Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos has suggested?
Or should Greece try to placate Turkey not just by offering not just Alexis Tsipras and Pannos Kammenos, but also a few islands like Imia and Chios, both of which are virtually beside Turkey.
Chios, after all, has, in the meantime, so many migrants, it might even be a good move to give it to Turkey. The maths certainly makes it more sense to give Chios to Turkey than to use Chios as a launch pad to send another 3 million migrants to Greece and Europe.
Also, the Greek islanders on Chios might actually welcome a resettle programme to mainland Greece.
This became clear to me when I was reading a book called “Seasons in Folgeandros”. This extremely interesting, illustrated book published in 2009 recounts the experience of two young teachers who are sent to the island of Folgeandros for their first job. The Greek text and English translation are placed side by side, making it an ideal method of learning Greek.
Young people, especially, seem to feel the need to leave the island for long periods during winter to do things like watch movies, go to the dentist etc, according to the authors.
The sailing trip to Piraeus, Athens, takes 12 hours and is made by a rust bucket of an old ship. The author says the voyage from the island to Athens in autumn and winter can be an “odyssey” , and takes “true daring”… Yet there is no guarantee any ship will sail at all to the island for long periods of time during the rough weather of winter leaving the locals without even newspapers…
Anyway, after reading about Folgeandros as seen through the eyes of these two teachers, I became curious to find out where exactly this island was. Boy, did that prove to be an unexpected challenge. I guess it may have taken me as much as half hour of scouring the map to spot this island. This because my map had no index and no grid references. I challenge you to find Folgeandros more quickly on a map like that…
Also, I challenge you, for a moment, to imagine the UK, France, USA, Italy or Germany surrounded by more than a thousand islands. Imagine no one knew much about most of these island, who lived there (a cyclops?, lotus eaters), or what the hell was going on those islands, barely reachable in summer and almost totally cut off in winter…which brings me back to Homer’s Odyssey…
Islands are not just economically and politically costly things. They are ambivalent places in Greek literature.
I don’t think most Greek people are especially attached to their far flung islands, much as they like the odd holiday to places like Santorini (something ever less affordable for them)
If push comes to shove, I think it would be better for Greece to give islands like Imia, Chios to Turkey along with Panos Kammenos, than to start a war with their neighbour over them, especially at a time when its economy is disintegrating and it is politically isolated.