Ankara University cancels World Greek Day over social media threats

Ankara University’s Faculty of Language and History-Geography (DTCF) has cancelled plans to mark World Greek Language Day after receiving threats and condemnation on social media.

The events, “planned as a scientific activity” and organised jointly by Ankara University, Istanbul University and Trakya University, were shelved after “causing a perception exceeding the initial purpose,” the faculty said in a statement.

On Monday, social media users running a Twitter account named Eastern Mediterranean Political began a campaign against the universities’ plans.

“Celebrating World Greek Language Day on Anatolian lands where heroes have marched to martyrdom and the blood of martyrs has watered the soil is only fit for sycophants lacking national consciousness,” the group said in a tweet.

“Organising a foolish event and harbouring sympathies for the Greek language puts a dagger in the back of Muslim Turks’ sovereignty in Western Thrace, and means that you have trampled on the Republic of Turkey’s interests in the Sea of Islands (Aegean Sea) and Eastern Mediterranean”, the group said.

Anti-Greek sentiment is pervasive among nationalists in Turkey and has been exacerbated by political and military tensions between the two neighbours over rights to natural resources in the Mediterranean and territorial boundaries in the Mediterranean and the Aegean.

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said Athens and Ankara came to the brink of war three times in 2020 over the ongoing disputes, while the National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) announced 128 violations of Greek airspace in January.

Turkey and Greece resumed exploratory diplomatic contacts to resolve their differences in late January. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the atmosphere was “very positive” in the first round on Jan. 28.