Why are there no settlements on our islands!

I feel blue whenever I see an island or an islet... The reason why? Is that the value of an island has never been known.  

I sigh, “Oh, the islands... Tut-tut!”... 

When you have the time, let us have a look at the island of Kos, which used to be called “Istankoy of the Ottoman” and, where even some vehicles can be seen in the distance if you look at it out of a hillside... Not only for one day, let us watch it for days... Passenger ferries come and go to Kos, cargo ships come and go, tankers come and go, cruise ships come and go...

That is because it is an island. People do live there! Passengers travel by ferry, the ferries stop by each of the Greek Islands. They are scheduled to touch at the islands and go on.  The goods required by the islands are to be transferred by cargo ships. Recreational crafts are to sail between the islands. There are settlements on those islands and the flag of Greece flies with a sense of belonging!

Now, get back to have a look at the coastal areas of Turkey and look at the islands and the islets which somehow remained as Turkish islands! They have never been considered as places to settle down... Even if they were, the environmentalists would stand against it!

The closest example of the islands and islets left after the Treaty of Lausanne is an unbelievably beautiful huge island called “Karaada”, “Black Island”, which is so green and at least it should have been called “Green Island”...  It is so isolated, uninhabited, and there is nothing, not even a Turkish flag flying. There is no life! No ferries coming and going. We do not visit or live there... Moreover, it was rented for 99 years in 2012!

According to the results of the 9th stage geothermal exploration tender of the General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration, a joint-venture won the tender of Black Island. Three years later, in 2015, the winner announced to launch a new tender. As the news published, “The Island in Bodrum becomes valuable. The undertakers, Joint-venture Company, which won the tender in October 2012, and rented it for 99 years, have announced that they would like to transfer their rights. The company rents the Island including the management built on it for 96 years under the law, legislation numbered 5686 on Geothermal Resources and Natural Mineral Waters. For the Island, which is also known as “Cleopatra Island”, the price is 25 thousand Euros per month, which makes 90 million Euros a year.”

In one of the 2010 issues, the magazine, “Para”, published a detailed review on the sale of the Aegean and Marmara Islands; “A few islands or islets that remained after Lausanne are mostly sold by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, instead of being settled. Or they are resold by the ones who had already bought them.” Those were the days, people were angry with that, Greeks were settling on the islets in the Aegean! 

-The value of the Island of Karaca in the Gokova Gulf had been 25 million Dollars! 

- The value of the 80 thousand square-metre “Farm Island” (Ciftlik Adası) (27620 square-metres private and 53000 square-metres belonged to the Treasury) on the Western Mediterranean coast had been 16 million Dollars. 

- It is known that one of the dynasties of Bozcaada (Tenedos) would like to sell their privately owned “Tavsan Adası” (Rabbit Island), the smallest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. The price has not been determined yet.  

-Cicek (Flower) Island, which is 8 km away from Ayvalik, is waiting for customers for 8 million Dollars.

-- The huge “Black Island” (Green Island, indeed) across Bodrum was rented by the state for 99 years in 2012. Three years later, it was reopened by the lesser.

Now turn your face to the hundreds of Greek Islands and their situation. The islands that are mentioned in the newspapers, TV channels, magazines by our famous travellers, like “On the Greek Islands, I have eaten delicious fish at Niko’s... I ate octopus on the x island...” etc...  

One day in Bodrum with Pier Luigi Foschi, the President of the Executive Committee of Costa Crociere...

It was 2010; Pier Luigi Foschi, the President of the Executive Committee of Carnival Corporation – Costa Crociere wanted to see around Bodrum. One of his authorised contacts, Captain Angelo Della Valle let me know his inquiry. I told the President of Marvel Maritime, my friend Levent Karacelik, who is a Bodrum lover, about the issue. 

The main purpose of Pier Luigi Forchi was the Island embracing Bodrum across. We went to the island called “Black Island” on a schooner. He took a breath and sat somewhere on the mound on the island where he was watching the dark blue sea with admiration. “A green island... There is nobody! It is heaven here” he said. 

“If settlements begin here...” he continued. 

Cruise ships were perceived as high buildings then. There were those even saying, “It will stand in front of us and block our sea view. The smoke revealed will pollute our air…” For the cruise harbour, a name was made up, “landing pier”… I remember that we had visited the Mayor of Bodrum. 

Although Foschi retired in 2012 at the age of 65, he has continued to be the President and the President of the Executive Committee of Costa Group. 

Oh, the islands... Tut-tut...

On the 22nd -23rd of December, 1913, the Ottoman Empire reported that they did not want to leave the islands such as Lesbos and Chios, which are close to the Anatolian shores, to Greece. However, when some of the large countries opposed, the Empire took the steps backward. Eventually, the Conference of Ambassadors was held in London. The decisions made there were delivered to the Ottoman on the 14th of February, 1914. According to that, the 12 Islands except for Meis Island were given to the Italians, all the Aegean Islands except for Gokceada and Bozcaada were given to Greece. The Ottoman Empire did not accept that and sent a diplomatic note to the large countries on the 15th of February, 1914. However, it did not change the result. With World War I started, the Aegean Islands virtually happened to be belonged to Greece and Italy. Which was, de facto, belonged to Turkey were Gokceada, Bozcaada and Meis. 

Having defeated from the World War I, according to the Article 84 of the Treaty of Sevres, which the Ottoman Empire was forced to sign in order to be fallen apart, all the islands such as Gokceada, Bozcaada, Limni, Semadirek, Mytilene, Chios, Samos and Nikarya would be given to Greece in accordance with the decision of the Conference of Ambassadors, and the decisions of London and Athens.

According to the Article 122 of the Treaty of Sevres, Turkey would give up all its rights and presence on the Islands which were under Italian occupation.  The islets associated with them such as Stampalia, Rhodes, Herkit, Kerpe, Kaşot, Bishop, Incirli, Kalymnos, Loryos, Patnos, Limpos, Sumbeki, Kos, and the Island of Kastellorizo would also be given up.

This is why I keep sighing, “Oh, the islands... Tut-tut!”... After the numbers of Islands gone for good, a strategy must be found out for the few remaining islands in order to vitalise them. Those islands must be opened for the culture and tourism of the World, and settlement. It is the people and our state to plan this strategy. 

How to vitalise such a beautiful Island embracing Bodrum?

I wish the name of the Island be “Green Island”… Or would you think of a friendlier name for it?