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Archive for January 13th, 2015

Good book

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For those interested in the modern history Greece and the Balkans, this book is fascinating. Covering a mere 200 years, it shows how the Great Powers (England, France, Russia, Austria/Hungary, sometimes Italy, and later Germany) fiddled and diddled in the Balkans as the dominance of the Ottomans waned.

The Ottomans organized their Balkan empire not by nationality (Serbs, Croats etc) but by religious “millets”. Moslems, Christians and Jews each had their own millet which were organized hieratically: The Caliph, the head of the Orthodox church, and the chief Rabbi. If the Ottomans wanted something done they would contact the head of each religious group and they would pass on the word to their members.

In the mid-1800s, an attempt at liberalizing the millet system by calling all peoples in the Balkans “Ottomans” accelerated the decline of the empire as outside forces could use ethnicity to influence the Bulgarians, or the Serbs or the Bosnians etc. The rest, as someone said, is history.

In the 1st Balkan War of 1912 and 2nd Balkan War of 1913, emerging Balkan nation states attempted to grab territory from each other by murdering civilians of other ethnicities. Those short wars, and the peace treaties which stopped the bloodshed and redefined borders, lead almost seamlessly into the events which kick started the Great War in 1914.

The post WWI treaties in which the Great Powers arbitrarily divided formerly Ottoman lands into “countries” continues to create problems in the Balkans and in the Middle East. It becomes very easy to see why Greece is so upset over the naming of FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia” (hint- it has nothing to do with Alexander the Great).

Glenny’s book goes well with Mark Mazower’s “Salonika – City of Ghosts” and Richard Clogg’s “A Concise History of Modern Greece”.
There is a newer edition of “The Balkans” which covers material up to 2012.

SkopelosNews reader Brendan lent this book to me (Tom). Thanks Brendan!

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Another glorious sunset

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Angela writes to us: “This is why we chose to live on this side (area Old Klima) of the island.”
This evening’s sunset/skyline all around, stretching from Evia, the Pindos mountain range, Skiathos and Pelion was spectacular. The photo is, we (skopelosnews) think, from two days ago, like the one shown yesterday on the blog.

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