Greek - Turkish Caricature
If humor can be a way out, then the Greek - Turkish caricature exhibition
in the European Parliament is one of the most decisive step that was done
towards the approach of the two nations. Ambassadors, 10 Greek and 10
Turkish caricature writers. The funny thing would be for the mutual approach
to continue on a political level as well. Such a possibility though is
not visible, not even as a joke ...
Towards the end of November 11th 1996, a bright inauguration of an exhibition
took place in Strasbourg. Joining the entire European Parliament, forty
drawings of 10 Greek (Arhelaos, Kalamaras, Kountouris, KIR, Makris,
Basilis and Kostas Mitropoulos, Pablidis, Stathis) and 10 Turkish
cartoonists (Balitsioglou, Seltsouk, Koraman, Dogan, Oulbi, Erkos,
Eksioglou, Ozbek, Tsagtsag, Goumus) were put up side by side for five
days. Title of the exhibition, nicely put: Greeks and Turks: The
A great success! The Europeans almost couldn't believe their eyes.
"The wish for the people for friendship, unfortunately, doesn't correspond
to the policies of certain governments", states the president of the
joint commission of the European Union and Turkey, René Piké.
And the vice president of the same commission, Claudia Roth added:
"Such an exhibition in the European parliament constitutes a historical
event, especially when made possible thanks to the initiative of the
Greek members of the European parliament".
Stathis Stabropoulos adds: "We wanted to leave outside of the exhibition
the conflicts between the two nations. With my Turkish colleagues we developed
a very warm relation. Imagine that none of them reacted when I made
the wish that our next exhibition be made in a free and reunited Leykosia
(Capital of Cyprus, currently under occupation by Turkish troops and
split in half like Berlin used to be). Now, I'm not sure if the bystanding
Turkish ambassador turned a bit green or not ..."
- Paraskebas Abgerinos
and Alekos Alabanos were boasting, listening to all these praises.
The first one with his prestige and the latter with his enthusiasm,
they had both been very helpful to make the dream of "our" cartoonists
and of "the other ones" come true. It was an original idea that belonged
to Basili Mitropoulos (who was also the one to make all the contacts
with the "other fellow cartoonists") and to Stathi Stabropoulos,
about a warm and productive meeting. In a nutshell, Alekos Alabanos
summarizes the meaning of the exhibition: "It would be good if the governments
could copy the message of the cartoonists for coexistence with tolerance,
independence, dignity and mutual profit".
The next move? The exhibition has been asked for by Brussels,
as well as by various cities in Greece and in Turkey. Its next appearance
will delay a bit though, since the cartoonists are trying to collect
as many pieces of work as possible. When they reach a satisfactory number,
first in line are the cities in Greece and Turkey that have been 'bonded'
to each other, and then come the other ones. If all goes well, it's
not impossible that the Greek parliament will adopt the exhibition,
since the president, Apostolos Kaklamanis sees the whole effort
positively, whereas the other public representatives have a well known,
particular liking for caricatures.
The conclusion belongs to Stathis: "The possibilities for the future
are open. All we need is an eagerness for work and for fun. There is a
need though to get to know our neighbors better. It's different when our
minds darken because of the great distance than when we are together.
We can then argue if we want, but at least without killing each other".