The Balkans have always been a fragmented battleground for land claims in an ongoing struggle for supremacy in the region. Greece itself has come a long way since the days of Eleftherios Venizelos and his “Great Idea” (Megali Idea), an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism with the goal of establishing a Greek state that would encompass all ethnic Greek-inhabited areas including those that were still under the Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor and Istanbul.
The days when Greece set it sights on the Southern Balkans, Anatolia and Cyprus are well and truly buried in history. These days, its hard enough for the cash-strapped country to salvage its pride let alone its land.
Here are some of the land areas currently held by Greece that various countries have set their sights on:
1. TURKEY WANTS THE AEGEAN
Turkish land claims over Greece – and vice versa – are centuries old. More recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questionned the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. He said it was a defeat for Turkey as it did not manage to receive Greek islands within “shouting distance” from its coast. Ankara’s Mayor Melih Gokcek took to Twitter with a map of the Greek islands in blue and the following statement:”Due to the Treaty of Lausanne, The blue islands shown below were given to Greece…And still Some people shamelessly say that’s a success… ”
2. ALBANIAN CHAMS WANT EPIRUS
The Chams (Tsamides) are a sub-group of Albanians that originally resided in the region of Epirus, northern Greece. Their cultural identity is a mixture of Greek and Albanian. During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), Epirus was annexeted by Greece. Albania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire and asked for sovereignty. Six Cham delegates from Chameria (the region of Greece they occupied) and Ioannina signed the declaration known as the Treaty of London. In April 1941, Greece was conquered by the Nazis. Several hundred Chams collaborated with the occupation forces whereas another part joined the Resistance in both Albania and Greece.After the withdrawal of German occupation forces, the majority of the muslim chams fled or were expelled into Albania by the forces of the right-wing National Republican Greek League. All this lay forgotten until in 1994, the Albanian state passed a plaw declaring June 27 the Day of the Greek Chauvinist Genocide Against the Albanians of Chimeria. Albania has since then created a Cham issue, seeking lost lands all the way to Ioannina, Greece.
3. BULGARIA WANTS THRACE
Three years ago, Bulgarian officials presented a map with the borders of their country covering the region of Thrace that now belongs to Greeks. The incident occured just before the Thracian Star defence exercises that took place at the Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base in Bulgaria with the participation of Greece, Romania and the United States. Naturally, the Greek Defence Ministry was not impressed by the map swallowing up a mass of its territory, however the Bulgarian sentiment had been around for a while with the rise of Bulgarian nationalism in the 19th century. In recent years, Bulgarian scientists have touted the idea that Bulgarians are descendents of Ancient Thrace rather than of Slavic origin.
4. THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (FYROM) WANTS MACEDONIA
The idea of United Macedonia is an irredentist concept among ethnic nationalists of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that claim that the region of Macedonia in Greece is their homeland that was wrongfully divided under the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913. Slogans such as “Thessaloniki is ours” are often uttered, with high-level officials adopting Greek architecture, symbols and claiming that historical figures such as Alexander the Great were of Slavic descent.
5. EGYPT WANTS THE ISLE OF CHIOS
Recent media reports in Egypt claim ownership of Chios, Greece’s 5th largest island. Former Egyptian Endowments Ministry official Atef Othmanp that the island was a gift to Egypt by an Ottoman sultan to Mohammed Ali Pasha in the 19th century. Atef believes that an agreement between Greece and Egypt in 1997 recognized the Egyptian deed to the island with Greece agreeing to rent it from Egypt for a million U.S. dollars per annum, but stopped paying rent following another agreement in 2015 that redefined maritime borders with Egypt and transferring sovereignty of Chios over to Greece. Comments sparked controversy in the Egyptian media and Greek Parliament with two Egyptian lawyers already filing a complaint against the Egyptian government on the grounds that it gave up an Egyptian island to Greece, whereas Egyptian deputy Haitham al-Hariry wants the government to provide clarification regarding agreements between Greece and Egypt on Chios’ ownership.
6. ISIS WANTS IT ALL
In its chilling five-year plan for global dominion, ISIS wants – you guessed it – Greece and many more countries as well.
Will Greece be able to hold on to the land it has?