Church on the Greek island of Leros
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz

ISTANBUL â€" There is an Italian saying: "Una faccia, una razza." It means "One face, one race," and is used by Italians and Greeks to note the characteristics the two peoples share.

When it comes to Turkish and Greeks, I use this phrase as "One face, one mentality." I don’t know how similar Greeks and Italians are â€" I haven’t spent enough time in either of those countries to know â€" but I can say for a fact that Greeks and Turks have plenty in common. One of my friends says it all boils down to the fact that we eat the same kind of food. But we also share the same sea and breathe the same air. And somehow, it has all led to us having the same conspiring mentality.

Two weeks ago, I went for a few days to the Greek island of Leros, which is not far from the Turkish coast. I've gotten to know the restaurant and bar owners, the grocers, taxi drivers, and bakers on the island. They are my friends.

While I was on Leros, came the words from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that made major headlines in Turkey and Greece: "Lausanne is not a victory: It’s a fiasco." He was talking about the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which is usually seen as the founding basis of modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and a triumph of Turkey’s secular leadership.

As you can imagine, there is a difference between hearing those words in Turkey and on a Greek island, which Erdogan apparently considers Turkish territory.

But if you sit on the beach of a nearby Greek island, you'll immediately understand why. There is a huge piece of land just to the East that is packed with armed soldiers. And if you are on a small island facing a giant land, it’s impossible to avoid flinching, for there is nothing but water that surrounds you and scary "history lessons" that have been registered in your mind since your childhood.

Leros waterfront â€" Photo: KV 28

And so I heard the locals on Leros captivated in conspiracy theories set off by Erdogan’s speech. It quickly reminded me of the way we Turks try to find the "evil U.S." responsible for every single unfortunate event, and of the way the Greeks look for the "Merkel witch" under every bad stone. The most recent conspiracy theory is this: Merkel is so panicked about the Syrian refugees from Turkey eventually arriving in Germany that she is prepared to give Erdogan anything he wants.

Following Erdogan’s declaration that the loss of 12 islands to Greece with the Lausanne treaty was a huge failure, the Greek conspiracy theory takes shape as follows: Erdogan will promise to take all refugees back to Turkey; in exchange, Merkel and the European Union will force Greece to return the 12 Islands to Turkey â€" the remaining three million refugees will then be placed on the islands. Erdogan’s dreams of triumph will come true and Merkel will be able to finally rest at ease!

What do you think? Are Greek conspiracy theories crazier than the Turkish ones?

The coup effect

Meanwhile, in a different speech, Erdogan again complained about attempts to demean the presidency. In our country, the president is elected to power and represents the unity of the nation according to the constitution. That’s why the president swears to stay impartial at the beginning of his tenure.

But Erdogan didn’t keep his promise. He should have resigned from his party the day he was elected president, but he didn’t. He has acted as a partial president, and continues to do so. He doesn’t hesitate to divide the country in terms of "us vs. them." And he has again made it clear that he doesn’t agree with the founding values of the Turkish Republic.

But, as the state of emergency is now extended for another three months, following the July 15 coup attempt, Erdogan doesn’t have to answer to anyone. The state of emergency allows the president to rule the country as an authoritarian regime, without any checks and balances that can limit his power. This was always his dream. This is not a conspiracy theory, it is reality.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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