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  • hbanziger

F + 11 : Epicurus and a Disputed Border

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

It is a quiet day today. Having stayed overnight in the Marina of Kusadasi, we plan to stay away from ports and enjoy the tranquility and peace of the natural bays on the way. For the transfer to Samos tomorrow, we have ferry tickers from Seferihisar to Karlovasi. Our boat for next week, the Queen of Datca, will be waiting at the port of Pythagoraion. Sadly, we had to say good-bye to two of our team members in Kusadasi. They had to catch a plane. We are down to seven.

The Bay of Sigacik is tranquil & quiet - except the 3 Boum-Boum Pirate Ships that passed by

Sailing to the Bay of Sigacik took just three hours but we attracted the attention of the Turkish Coast Guards again. This time a helicopter hovered over us for three times – but never made radio contact. After a while – we were happily waving – the chopper banked sharply left and disappeared. Seems we were not what they were looking for.

This Turkish Coast Guard Boat caught a dozen of illegal Immigrants in the Samos Strait today

The border on the Turkish side is actively patrolled and I assume it is same on the Greek side. The border is the result of the Balkan War in 1912/13 during which the Greek Navy occupied the Aegean Islands. A peace treaty was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Greece in November 1913. The Ottoman Empire acknowledged the loss of Thessaloniki and Ioannina, the transfer of Crete to Greece and obtained minority rights for the Turkish people living on the lands ceded to Greece. The trickiest issue, the fate of the Aegean Islands of Lesbos, Chios, Lemnos, Imbros & Tenedos remained unresolved though.

Territorial Losses and New Borders in 1913

Since Greece and Turkey could not agree, the issue was submitted to the Great Powers (England, France, Russia, Austria and Germany) for arbitration. In February 1914, a few months before the First World War, they decided to give Lesbos, Chios and Lemnos to Greece and Tenedos & Imbros to Turkey. The islands had to be demilitarised and the Greek and Turkish minorities were given special status to protect their rights.

The Signing of the Balkan Peace Treaty in London in 1913 by all the warring Parties

Neither Greece nor Turkey were happy with the result. Both started a naval arms race, which came to nothing when WWI changed everything. The two English Dreadnoughts Turkey had ordered and paid for were never delivered. The Ottoman Empire entered war on Germany’s side and got two modern battle cruisers instead The Allied Forces (UK and F) used the Aegean Islands as logistics hubs for the Gallipoli campaign. So much for demilitarisation!

Turkish Territorial Claims in the Aegean and the Mediterranean after 2014

The status of the Aegean Island was a non-issue for more than 80 years, specifically during the Cold War. But when seismic surveys suggested that there were 70 – 90 trillion cubic feet of natural gas below the Ionian and Aegean Sea, tensions flared up again (See my blog F - 137). To put it into context, Greece consumes about 246 bn cubic feet of gas per year. Turkey’s number is larger with 2’022 bn cubic feet. These reserves will last quite a while. Almost 50 years for Turkey alone.

Both Greece and Turkey claim the continental shelf with the gas for themselves. To get the dispute resolved, the Greek government submitted it to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. But Turkey rejected the arbitration claiming that Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is questionable since Greece militarized them and is thus in breach of the Treaty of 1914. Now both countries are in a naval arms race again.

Turkey's brand new Assault ship, the TCG Anadolu, will enter service by the end of 2022. It carries a Marine Battalion of 700 men and could be equipped with F-35B Jump Jets

The result of all these tensions is that crossing the border between Turkey and Samos is more challenging than it needs to be. There are relatively few ferries, tickets are sold out quickly and passing immigration takes at least an hour. There is not much trust between the two countries. The immigration crises which started in 2016 and continues to this day erodes the little trust that is left between the two countries further.

There is a Sailing School in Sigacik where Kids learn sailing as in all Mediterranean places

As we travelled along the coast, we decided to stop in Sigacik, a quiet, little Turkish Seaside Resort. Its harbour is full of small sail and motor boats. No big yachts. It did not occur to us that we anchored just one kilometer from the ancient town of Teos, once one of the twelve members of the Ionian League.

The Theatre at the Ancient Town of Teos is one of the few Structures which survived

The town flourished in the 7th and 6th centuries BC but was left by its inhabitants when the Persians invaded. It was rebuilt in Roman time and got a theatre, a temple of Dionysus (have to find out what type of wine they planted here) and declined like all the other Ionian towns in the 6th century AD. The town was abandoned for such a long time, very little survived.

And if you look closer, you will also find the old Pier of Toes - some of the slabs are still there

It is known though as the place where Epicurus, the Greek philosopher grew up. Epicurus had kind of a revival in the western world over the last few decades. He later moved to Athens where he founded a philosophy school that opposed the prevailing doctrine of Plato.

The Greek Philosopher Epicurus lived from 341-278 BC

Epicurus taught that people should live a happy live in peace, free of fear and pain. He believed that all human suffering was caused by fear of death which triggered unnecessary anxiety, selfish behaviour and hypocrisies. Living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends would cure it all. He suggested people to live an ethical life because bad behaviour triggers guilt and prevents you from achieving peace and tranquility. Sounds all quite Buddhist except that Epicurus did not believe in afterlife. Body and soul would be gone after death

Whilst Epicurus had not way to proof it, he also believed that the universe is infinite and that all matter is composed of tiny particles which we called atoms (uncuttable in Greek)

Our Journey will continue tomorrow on the Queen of Datca which we saw refuelling tonight - there is no VAT on fuel for boats who do not immigrate - are we not all commercial?

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