However, with people asking it not to be shut down, the decision is no longer up to them.
Mihail Vassiliadis, editor-in-chief of the Greek daily Apoyevmatini, which has been in publication since 1925, has said that he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the closure of the Greek-language newspaper.
“I mentioned that I was closing the newspaper at a [Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation] TESEV meeting recently,” he said in reference to a June 24-25 conference organized by TESEV.
When Vassiliadis went to the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) on June 30, he found himself surrounded by his journalist friends asking him not to close the paper. He said that he had received several calls of support from respected academics and journalists. Among them was political scientist Baskın Oran.
“He called and said, ‘Look Mihail, you may be able to publish this newspaper by yourself, but your power is not going to be enough to close it by yourself’,” Vassiliadis said, adding that he was moved by the amount of support he received.
“I later found out that a young Turk who lives in the Netherlands started posting messages on Twitter about the closure of the newspaper after I mentioned it at the TESEV conference, which was aired live through the TESEV website,” Vassiliadis said. “Then people, Turkish speakers who do not know a word of Greek, started calling the newspaper to subscribe.”
Apoyevmatini managed to gain around 70 more subscribers, but this is not enough to keep the paper alive in the long run. Vassiliadis says he is in constant debt.
“That’s why I decided to shut it down. It is no longer viable,” he said, complaining about the lack of enough financial support to keep the paper running.
“My last chance was to ask for official advertisements, but they told me that I should have a circulation of 5,000+ in order to be able to get those,” he said.
The newspaper has a circulation of 600, which reaches almost 100 percent of the members of the Greek community in Turkey. Vassiliadis also distributes the paper in electronic format to the former Greek community of Turkey now living abroad, but this does not require a paid subscription.
Vassiliadis explains that the paper’s total expenditure is around TL 13,000 ($8,125), and that 30 percent of that cost can be met with advertisements coming from Turkey’s Greek community, whose numbers are estimated at around 3,000.
Even though the Greek population in Turkey was no less than 100,000 in the 1930s, tension between Turkey and Greece has greatly affected the Greek community’s survival in Turkey. Following the İstanbul Riots of Sept. 6-7, 1955 and then with the 1964 deportation of roughly 12,000 ethnic Greeks without Turkish citizenship, the Greek population has been in constant decline.
“Apoyevmatini lost its readership because of negative discrimination against the ethnic Greeks of Turkey. The damage can be repaired only through positive discrimination,” Vassiliadis said, dismissing news reports that the newspaper is struggling because of the financial crisis in Greece.
“The crisis has had some effect on the paper, but that’s not it,” he said.
When it comes to how Turkey’s Greek community feels about the closure of Apoyevmatini, Vassiliadis was reminded of their motto: No Greek dies or is born without the knowledge of Apoyevmatini.
“The paper is the glue that connects the Greek community together here,” he said, adding that Turkey should be proud of its young population.
“Young Turks, mostly university students, call me every day these days asking to subscribe to Apoyevmatini even though they do not know any Greek,” he said and added that he was particularly moved by one call. “A woman, a respected academic, called and asked for an urgent subscription because she was going to have an operation the next day. I have to keep the paper alive for as long as I can.”