A REFERENCE TO OUR EAST
© FOUNDATION OF THRACIAN ART & TRADITION
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When discussing ?Our East? or Anatolian Hellenism, we mean the significant and flourishing Greek populations which historically resided outside of the borders of the modern Greek state, on the east of the Aegean sea.
By the early 20th century, a little before World War I, the Greeks were a people with a clear character, residing in the geographical areas of the historical regions covered by the ecumenical Byzantine Empire.
At its foundation, the Greek state was inhabited by only one quarter of the Greek population. A precondition for the existence of the Greek nation-state was the ecumenical Great Idea, which was its central ideology. Influenced by the Enlightenment, the Great Idea had many similarities with the European understanding of the nation-state.
In the wider and greater East, Anatolian Hellenism, politically subject to the cultural and economic ruler, had achieved a degree of modernisation that allowed it to preserve its traditions and characteristics. For the Greeks of the East, Byzantine civilisation was the source and foundation of Modern Hellenism.
With the collapse of the eastern front and the enforced movements and exchanges of populations that followed, almost the whole of this Greek population abandoned their homes and went to the New Lands. Thrace welcomed a large section of this population, which at the same time acted as a bearer of the civilisation that had developed in the ancestral cradles.