Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Turks save the newspaper Apogevmatini

A Greek newspaper based in Istanbul, Turkey, called "Apogevmatini" was saved by many Turks from certain closure by requesting to subscribe. 
Michalis Vassiliadis, the publisher of this Greek newspaper, had announced at a ceremony of the Research Centre TESEV  that Apogevmatini, issued in Istanbul since 1925, would close on July 12th 2011, on the newspaper's birthday, due to economic problems. The speech was broadcast live and a young Turkish student in Holland then took a great initiative and started a campaign on the Internet entitled "Do not close the Apogevmatini". 

Within a couple of days the number of those who supported the campaign through facebook reached ten thousand. However further support was emphasised due to the fact that Turkish academics, writers, politicians, journalists and students were seeking to become subscribers. Michalis Vassiliadis explains whilst being deeply moved "the Turks have reached 200 subscribers". He was astonished when a university professor called in requesting the newspaper's bank account number in order to subscribe, moments before she had a surgery. Oral Calislar, a known journalist, also called asking to subscribe. "What is happening is unbelievable" says Michalis Vassiliadis.  

That is why the publisher of the newspaper felt the need to thank them by posting for the first time in the Apogevmatini's history a text in Turkish stating: " Dear friends, you became subscribers without knowing Greek We celebrate today our birthday but without you we would be mourning. It would have been the last day of the life of our newspaper Apogevmatini of the Greeks of Constantinople, which has been issuing for the past 86 years". The Greek Consulate stopped funding the newspaper. Greek businesses halted their adds. This situation was devastating, since the newspaper lost 150 euros daily. The help given by the Turkish citizens gave hope and life to the Apogevmatini, for at least a couple of months. However a permanent solution should be found soon. 
The first issue was circulated on the 12th of July 1925. According to the current publisher it sold over 30.000 copies. It was bought by Greeks and Turks (who had come from Greece after the population exchange in 1922). When Michalis Vassiliadis became its publisher it only sold 80 copies. He succeeded to sell it to all 600 Greek households in Istanbul. However the economic crisis brought the income level to an all time low, making it impossible to carry on publishing the newspaper. Nevertheless the end is not near, due to the support of the newspaper's newly Turkish subscribers.   
It is important to keep a newspaper like the Apogevmatini alive in Istanbul, where a small Greek population still exists. It is moving to see how many Turkish citizens have seen the seriousness of the situation and have actually helped tremendously. Actions like this one highlight how people can and should help each other in difficult circumstances, despite deriving from different backgrounds.  

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