Ekrem Imamoglu was elected on Sunday to be the next mayor of Istanbul. The 49-year-old low-profile candidate from secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) managed to win AKP’s candidate and former prime minister Binali Yildirim and conquer Istanbul Erdogan’s party was holding since the beginning of the 1990’s.
Imamoglu is considered a unifying political personality that managed to reach out across the polarized city.
But he seems to have more talents than unifying the Turkish voters.
Greek media discovered that he can speak the Pontus dialect of Greek and he can also dance Pontus dances.
“The new mayor of Istanbul is a Pontios,” Greek media cheer Imamoglu who was born in the city of Trabzon at the south coast of the Black Sea in North-East Turkey.
This is of special significance for Greeks, as the Pontus region is a historical Greek designation and it was first colonized by Greeks in the 8th and 7th centuries BC.
He speaks Greek and dances Pontus dances, media hail, and found a video Ekrem Imamoglu posted on his Facebook page.
Imamoglu visited the town of Giannitsa, in North-West Greece, to attend an event in 2016
“Dancing with Greek friends!” he wrote.
I don’t know how and where the media learned that he speaks Pontus Greek, and he might indeed does so if he is open-minded.
It is worth noting that the Pontus-Greek population was exterminated in 1919 and the survivors of the massacre either fled to Kaukasus republics of Russia or moved to Greece in the context of population exchange in 1923. However, there are still people in villages around Amasia, the ancient capital of Pontus, who speak a dialect mix between Pontus-Greek and Turkish.
Greeks love to believe that the Pontus-Greek speaking population are Greeks who converted to Islam after the Greek-Turkish war in 1920-1922, are call the “crypto-Christians.”
Whatever the background of Imamoglu, at least with him in Istanbul chances that Erdogan materializes his threats to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque are minor.
The Turkish President and his party not only lost Istanbul but also Ankara and Izmir and paid the election campaign mistakes to focus on foreign policy (Hagia Sophia, Aegean, Cyprus, Trump, USA, Russia) when everybody knows that the motive for voter is his own pocket. And Turkish economy is not at its best for the time being.