Greek Foreign Minister Corrects Tweet: Istanbul, Not Constantinople

ATHENS – Greece still refers to Istanbul by the name Constantinople some 570 years after the city fell to invading Ottomans, but for Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, it’s apparently both.

After tweeting that he would travel to “Constantinople” to attend a Orthodoxy Patriarchal and Archieratic Divine Liturgy and meet with Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew he got blistered by Turkish reaction.

The next day he referred to the city as Istanbul and went there to attend the Feast of Orthodoxy- the first Sunday of Great Lent – at the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, said Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

Worshippers also prayed for the victims of the devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria as well as for the victims of the Feb. 28 train crash in Greece in a head-on collision that took at least 57 lives.

The Head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Church, Archbishop Georgios, also attended the ceremony, the report said, no apparent political flap over the reference to the city as Constantinople initially.

The name change is more complicated than it seems Christoph Herzog, Chair of Turkish studies at the University of Bamberg in Germany told the site Live Science, especially when figuring in the political dimension.

The answer, surprisingly, isn’t when the former Roman city was captured by Ottoman forces in 1453 as variations of Constantinople continued to be used by the Turkish-speaking conquerors long after they took control of the city. “It’s a fact that the Ottomans called Istanbul ‘Kostantiniyye,’ among other names, in thousands of their official documents,” he said.


“The strategic and symbolic importance of Istanbul was recognized even then, as can be seen by the fact that it was made into the Ottoman Empire’s new capital,” Herzog told the science site.

He said others in the empire began to use the word Istanpolin, which means “to the city” in Turkish (adapted from the Greek phrase “eis tan polin”) to colloquially describe the new seat of Ottoman imperial power.

Progressively, Istanpolin became used more, but the official name remained Constantinople but after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War the Sultanate  was abolished in 1922, and the Republic of Turkey was born in 1923, according to Britannica.

In 1930, the Turkish postal service decided that some clarification was in order, and made Istanbul the city’s official name and other institutions followed suit, including the U.S. State Department and other countries.

Except for Greece, depending on the political situation as the two countries had been at near-conflict levels over Turkish provocations before the deadly earthquake in Turkey and train tragedy in Greece.


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