Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Interview: The Turk Who Writes Greek

Very Dear Friends and Family,

As most of you already know, 2013 started with a great news which was published at Greek NEWS 247 with the title "The Turkish Woman Who Insists to Write Greek". This was the interview the Greek journalist, Stefanos Nikitas, -who read my blog which I had tried to writte in Greek,- had with me.  If you already can speak Greek and have not read the interview yet you can Click Here to read it. However, for who can not read Greek, here is the interview in English. 

I don't want to talk too much now, so, to make long story short, now you will read about an interview of a Turk who insists to learn Greek, and who does believe in the power of Love.

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Interview: The Turkish Woman Who Insists to Write Greek

G. Nur Bilek spoke to the NEWS 247 and sent a message of friendship and peace to Greeks. How her love to the language led her to learn to write Greek...

Nur Bilek was 7 years old when she got memorized the Greek Alphabeth in Izmir, where she grew up and went to school. After having graduated from the department of Psychology at the University in Bursa, now she learns Greek, the language she loved since childhood, at the Greek Consulate in Istanbul. 

We have been informed about her blog with a tweet. You can find her blog post in Greeklish Here!

Her effort is great. Despite the Greeklish, and spelling errors, Nur shows how much she loves the language, music, and the culture. 

She agreed to answer the questions of NEWS 247 saying how she feels honoured and pleased to speak on the Greek-Turkish relations. Through her responses she sends the message that nothing separates the two peoples.

Stefanos Nikitas: Where did you learn Greek and why did you choose to learn this difficult language?

G. Nur Bilek: I started to learn Greek at the Greek Consulate in Istanbul as they give Greek lessons by Greek teachers. So a big thanks should go to the previous Greek Counsul General for founding this language school, and to the current Counsul General for supporting the lessons so far. - Well, I still don't know why but I memorized the Greek Alphabeth when I was 7 (as I also mentioned on my blog). I'm still wondering the reason why and if living in Izmir had an effect on my will to learn Greek, as I grew up in Izmir. - The funny thing is that from the very first moment I started to learn Greek, many people -including even some Greeks- always asked me "Why do you learn Greek, they're in crisis?!" though you never hear this question if you attempt to learn English or Spanish, Russian, Chinese, even French or Italian. Maybe I had to repeat the same answer again and again and I said "Really, don't know, I just follow my heart." It's something like my "inner call" says me I should do that, and that's it!
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SN: You graduated from psycology. What are your professional plans? Will you like one day to work in Greece and why?

NB: Graduating from psychology was the only area I wanted to graduate from, and thankfully, I did it. I started my university studies in Turkey, and later on I went to study in Torino (Italy) with Erasmus Scholarship. - After so many serious education, and international work experience, I am also a professional career coach. Besides, I am about to start a new business will allow me to manage national and international projects. I always worked internationally which gave me a lot of insight, and shaped my view and perception for the world and myself. And I am planning to work always internationally, as I feel myself a global citizen. In my 2013 plans, there are many travels to Greece for both leisure and business trips, hopefully. We say here "Insallah (if God lets me do it)" and Greeks says "πρωτα ο Θεος". I would be "always" very happy to work with Greece and Greek friends, whether it is developing a business or friendship. And if I could work for developing the heart to heart links for both countries, then I will count myself as the happiest person of the world at the end of of 2013 (Related to developing the emotional, cultural, and friendship connection between our countries, if a proposal comes from the Greek side I would be more than happy to work with our Greek friends). As I mentioned before, I have also some plans to develop business between Turkey and Greece within 2013, and hoping to develop them successfully by the end of 2013. 
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SN: What is your opinion about Greek people? 

NB: I feel myself so close to the Greek people. As you may heard it before maybe so many times, the two people are incredibly similar to each other. Our mentalities, cultures, appearences (you may not distinguish the difference between a Turkish and a Greek person, apperantly), emotions, the things we laugh for or cry for are so similar, even sometimes the same. Maybe that is why Turkish TV series are so popular and touches Greek people's heart. - Another thing, we had the same painful experiences in the past. I believe that Greeks and the Turks were the best neighbours and created the best neighbourhoods in the past in both sides of the Aegean Sea. They visited their houses maybe 3 times a day, they cooked the same foods, so that is why we have extremely many common words which are especially home-related ones; they sat in the streets to chat and in the cafes for long converstions everyday, and the most important thing is they were the first neighbours when it came to help eachother, and created unforgettable memories. And finally they fell in love with each other. But, one day something happened and unfortunately two people had to seperate which was extremely painful for each people. And that time they had some other thing in common: being have to leave each other, knowing that they would never see each other again. So we shared the same country and the same culture which almost made us "one". How come and two people don't love each other! If there is a person who claims that s/he doesn't like the other country's people, it's like swearing at oneself.
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SN: What do you think about the Greek economic crises? What do Turkish people say about that?

NB: Well, I would like to provide you and answer from two different perspectives. From developmental and social psychological point of view; everything has a reason behind, and when it comes to the crisis in Greece what we all need to do is to be able to see the real reasons behind. Sometimes it may be found very easily by many people, but most of the time we all need to be a bit wiser to understand as the reality or the reason may not be as what it seems. I, personally, believe that the crisis in Greece is not a matter of money, but a matter of attitude toward life. I know that in Greece, so many people have some other people to blame (as a result of cultural tendency- don't worry, we have the same attitude, I told you how similar we are) and those who are blamed also have some others to blame, and it goes on like this... Untill a wiser and braver "leader" appears. If we really want to know the real reasons that caused the crise we should all go back to our childhood to remember one of our common memories. When we were small kids, whenever "WE" hit our legs or head to the corner of table, one of our parents came and hit the table back to punish the poor innocent table several times till we stopped crying. And it always happened like that. Therefore we "learned" that we never do mistake, but the others. Though it seems as a childhood memory, it has become an attitute towards life for us, and we learned to blame anyone but ourselves. As the fact that in life, everything has a circle, I'm aware of that the crisis in Greece is a part of circle, too, which means that after dark days, soon, the bright days will come. The circles are real, therefore the enlightment is always inevitable.

On the other hand, the Greek economic crisis can be described by both the perspective of the Turkish business community and that of the general people as a whole. From the first perspective it can be surmised that Greece has seen in the last twenty years substantial public sector spending and an immediate example can be the billions of euros that were spent in hosting the Olympics and the huge expenditure that resulted in putting together the infrastructure. Was Greece able to get its investment back and indeed, was the infrastructure able to create revenues after the Olympics were completed? In addition, huge funds have been expended on other infrastructure related investments and all this has to be met by the Greek taxpayer. Huge borrowings from the EU have lead to immense budget deficits and Greece cannot rely solely upon its tourism receipts, which though substantial do not cover the public sector borrowing as well as interest payments to EU loans. It can be assumed also that the EU appears to have abandoned Greece. In a recent comment by a French politician, it was said that Greece is 'not really a part of Europe but more a part of the East'. These are fundamentally important comments which give rise to much of the sentiment felt by many people who believe that the EU has left Greece "on its own". This can also be characterised by much of what is being said by many in Europe and Germany's stance is one that is not to be considered sincere. The Greek culture is very similar to that of Turkey but one of the main issues is that Greece has not invested in industry, be it hi-tech or conventional manufacturing. The Greek government has not incentivised the business community in any substantial way and thus Greece has not been able to develop to a high level its ability to produce goods and increase value added export sales.

From the perspective of the normal man in Turkey, I think he feels that Greece has been abandoned by its European partners and that it will need to stand alone and seek help from neighbours both from a economic perspective and from a political perspective. Turkey recently waived from immediate a $300million dollar payment due to its exchequer from Greece. Turkey's friendship towards Greece is sincere and rooted in a relationship that could prove to be fruitful in the future and many people believe this in Turkey.
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SN: I read in your blog that you visited Thesaloniki. How was the hospitality? Did you visit other cities? What is your opinion about Greek people?

NB: Well, this is the best part of the interview for me. My visit to Thessaloniki was one of the best memories in my life though it was only a two day trip. My only aim was to walk on the streets, walk in the shops randomly, and talk to the people as much as I could, but in Greek. When I went to Thessaloniki my Greek was much poorer than I have now and I knew I spoke like Tarzan... I stopped by many shops, libraries, restaurants... And you have no idea how much hospitable Thessaloniki people were to me so that they made me feel like home. Everytime I explained that I came from Istanbul, I saw their eyes shining with a great, sincere smile. I could see their happiness from their eyes, body language and their attutude towards me. A salesperson gave me a map of Thessaloniki as a gift. And the hotel I stayed has such a beautiful location and sea view from the terrace which I had amazing breakfasts with delicious cookies were particular to Thessaloniki. And I can't forget the 1,5 hour I spent in the bookshop which was by the sea, how much I struggled to find some very basic-level books I could understand. - And obviously, Thessaloniki looked like my hometown, Izmir, so much. With its coast and many bars and restaurants along the coast of Thessaloniki it so much reminded me the coasts of Izmir.  

The interesting thing is that Thessaloniki has been the only place I have been so far in Greece. So, it all means that I had loved a country even before I went there. However, as I mentioned before I am planning to have many trips to Greece for 2013 including Athens, Corfu, and Halkidiki, and some other islands; and hopefully one of them will be to listen to Marios Frangoulis again whom I wrote and dedicated one of my blog post himself 1,5 years ago right after I listened to him lively in Istanbul. He is a person I do appreciate firstly his "personality", and then his voice and music. One of my biiggest wishes is to meet him someday and know him personally. You can Click Here to read the blog post I wrote for about Mario Frangoulis. 
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SN: Do you think that the “war” between our conties is political or something else?

NB: What war!? Let's go to steet and ask people randomly how they were treated during their visit to Turkey. I told mine already above. The so called 'animosity' that has historically existed between the Greek and Turkish peoples is very much a political manifestation and sadly many people have been brainwashed into believing that there are great differences between the two nations. Greeks and Turks have lived side by side for generations (and still do) in both Turkey and Greece alike though today not with the same numbers. As people, Greeks and Turks get on very well with each other, the huge cultural similarities, the food, to a large extent the music and in many ways the social morality is very similar. over time, governments with interests in Greece have used Greece and its geo-political positioning and forged incorrect ideas in the minds of people and thus these so called 'animosities' have evolved. When Turks travel to Greece they are treated with great respect and vice versa.

I have never seen two nations which love each other sincerely that much. Any blame that lies for the creation of possible bad feelings lies largely at a political level but in modernity, I think both Greeks and Turks now know the real feelings of warmth they have for each other. We can not let our friendship to be damaged by unfortunate statements of some politicians. As the rest of the people in Turkey I grew up with a great saying "Peace at home, peace in the world." which we inherited from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the sayings of the wise philosopher, poet, Mevlana Rumi. From both two views we have been always taught that Turkey always will try to do its best to save the "Peace". From Greece or Turkey, we may see some people still have "animosity". Personally, I treat all these people with love. And I have never, ever come back home without his/her love and respect. We should never forget that "love" which may be the reason of the universe is above all. Just like Sophocles said, "Love Conquers War". Finally, I would like to summary the whole text with an old Sufi poem:

"Come, let us be friends for once; let us make life easy on us; let us be lovers and the loved ones; the earth shall be left to no one."

With my very best wishes & Thank you,

G. Nur Bilek