looking at the lights of greece, i get mixed feelings. today, ismail cem ipekçi was laid to rest, too. we seem to be losing the good ones, already few, rather fast. he was one of the very very rare politicians that i considered human. i was even surprised at his obsession with politics. actually, he was not so good at it i think. that is why he was respected though, i bet, not understood even by his peers, let alone the common constituents. he certainly was never the "people's men" deniz baykal declared him to be, although he took his mandatory political time with the great unwashed and looked like he truly liked it!
watching the lights of greece, cem becomes a far more meaningful colleague i am glad to have worked with. i spent a good part of my life trying to promote some sort of rapport between turks and greeks in any capacity that was available to me. yes, i am a peace freak or a freaky pacifist etc. but that is not the reason. the everlasting love of my life isthe aegean sea and what she nourishes on her shores. therefore, forever, greece has felt like home to me, even at times i could not travel there.
then came years of arguing, haggling, commiserating and reaching aggreements with greek officials of various titles, mainly the limanarcheio, the harbormasters... i captained peace voyages, sport events, cruises and stolen escapades into the other side of the aegean and loved every minute of it - even with passengers aboard my ships!
i learnt first hand during the difficult times, what it means to be an "enemy" to persons whom you bear no grudge against. i felt the frustration of being branded under a blanket category by people i wished to get close but who would not desist from viewing as sommething i was not except in their prejudices. what most ired and tired me was how, on both sides, individuals, or people massed by a narrow vision of the world, who were supposed to be individuals, played the party tune written by their governing apparati. i still enjoyed my repeated visits to greece - especially because each time, i would meet a considerable number of persons who particularly made an effort to be friendly or more importantly, just were friendly because they really were.
the "rapport" that would make friendship over the aegean a possibility could only come if more greeks and turks could get to know each other. unfortunately, such an occasion occurred only after thousands died under the rubble that was caused not by any so-called enemy but by the greed of developers, building contractors, nature violators and consumers themselves when the quakes of 1999 fell.
ismail cem was a special person because out of the rubble of the earthquakes, together with his counterpart o kyrios papandreu, who defied his father's contrary legacy of antagonism between the two nations, he was able to construct a modest abode for rapprochement that is slowly growing into a mansion. without cem, the lights of greece might not be shining so alluringly, invitingly and familiarly for many turks as they do now.