‘My family lived here,’ they say with emotion

Sedad Cod stands by the waterfall in Edessa, gazing at the landscape. «My family lived here,» he says, his eyes red with emotion. He is one of many Turks who have come to Greece in recent years on a kind of pilgrimage to the places where their forebears lived until 85 years ago, when they left for Turkey in accordance with the population exchange mandated by the Treaty of Lausanne. In those troubled times, 670,000 Ottomans left cities and villages in northern Greece, Epirus and Crete, while 1,650,000 were uprooted from Asia Minor and came to Greece. The younger generations on both sides of the Aegean have inherited a legacy of nostalgia and every year, usually in the spring and summer, they set out on a pilgrimage. A new kind of tourism that is very personal and emotional, without any ethnic tensions or irredentist notions, has emerged in recent years. The Foundation of Lausanne Treaty Emigrants, created by the emigrants’ offspring, has organized two excursions a year since 2000, assisting around 1,000 Turks to visit their ancestral homes. Independent «We’re not interested in visiting Greece through official bodies, such as consulates or even local government authorities. We prefer to be independent and meet Greeks who’ve had the same experiences as us, as refugees,» the foundation’s secretary general, Sefer Guvenc, told Kathimerini.

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