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Editorial

A Turkish Tree Grows in Brooklyn – and Our Community’s Responsibilities

Never before has the mayor of New York been pro-Turkish, certainly not as much as the newly-elected Eric Adams.

And he is not merely being a politician, who – which would also be to his discredit – flatters a Turkish audience on the campaign trail, tossing compliments here and there to attract money and votes, but he is an enthusiastic promoter of Turkey – an elected mayor who seems ready to hand over the keys to the City of New York to Turkey.

There are many alarm bells ringing in the wake of Adams’ interview with the Turkish news agency ‘Anadolu’ – his first, as they advertise, in an international media outlet.

The loudest alarm he strikes is his speaking without pretense. He is proud of his admiration for Turkey, also gushing about his relationship with the Turkish community in New York. He does not tone down his words at all.
“Turkey has played a major role in shaping humanity and will continue to do so in the future,” he said.

It is clear that he does not know what he is saying. He is merely repeating things he has heard.

Adams attributes his love for Turkey to the fact that Brooklyn is home to more Turks than anywhere else in America. That is debatable. Of course there is no comparison between our numbers and the Turks’. According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2019, there are an estimated 212,000 Turkish-Americans, compared to about 1.25 million Greek-Americans.

Yes, his message is peculiar. Something is not right here. Something else is going on – but what?

It is not customary for mayors to intervene in matters of the country’s foreign policy. What Adams is doing is not only a blatant violation of the rules, but his… policy is at odds with that of the State Department.

He ignores or does not care that U.S. relations with Turkey are going through their biggest crisis in decades. He ignores or is indifferent to human rights abuses in Turkey. He ignores or is indifferent to the mistreatment of refugees. He ignores or is indifferent to the illegal invasion and occupation – and the continuous expansion of the occupation today – of Cyprus. He ignores or is indifferent to the belligerent violations of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.

He cannot but know about at least some of these matters. If anything, it shows his indifference – or how strangely deep his relationship with Turkey is.

On top of all that, they are an insult to a part of the population of the city that will soon lead. Us.

There is another dimension: The Adams-Turkey relationship is ringing alarm bells for Greece.

Let’s look at these two points in more detail: It is impossible for a New York politician not to know that hundreds of thousands of Greek-Americans live in this city and that it is us, not the Turks, who offer the most invaluable services to New York.

I propose the following: a group of Greek-Americans, led by our Archbishop, should ask to meet with Mr. Adams to make clear our dissatisfaction and ask him, in the worst case, to maintain equal distance between the two Communities.

But we have to do it now, at the beginning of his term, in order to prevent the worst, because barring any unforeseen situation. he will be the mayor of New York for at least four years and we cannot allow him to be ‘the first Turkish mayor of New York.’

But there is another important issue. An issue that should concern Greece:

Turkey, probably through its expatriates, or its authorities, recognized Adams’ potential at some point and cultivated a relationship with him from the time he was a state senator, and then Borough President of Brooklyn. And of course, intensified their relationship – again through their compatriots here, most likely – during his campaign for mayor of New York.

Adams himself revealed that he traveled to Turkey six to seven times. Perhaps he forgot to count a few other times?

He also revealed that the expenses of his travels, as well as those of his special advisor, were paid for by Turkey.

And, of course, in addition to the complimentary dinners, the tours in Constantinople and elsewhere, the Turks were given the opportunity to ‘inform’ him about issues of concern to them, to present to him their history and their current position in the world, not in a fact based manner – but in the way they like to present it.

And, obviously, they do not just do that with Mr. Adams. They do the same with many others. And to be fair, it is not only the Turks who are doing this, but also the Israelis and others, because this is an investment that pays off, as the Adams case proves. Unfortunately, Greece does not do the same.

So let us create a service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose job will be to identify, host, and inform – i.e. lobby – politicians and other ‘influencers’ who have an impact on public opinion and policy makers in the countries where they live, as well as promising politicians, Greeks and non-Greeks alike, who support us and who may one day have a say on issues pertaining to Greece.

Let them do it now.

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