Following the defeat of the Greek Army in 1922 by nationalist Turkish forces, the Convention of Lausanne in 1923 specified the first compulsory exchange of populations ratified by an international organization. The arrival in Greece of over 1.2 million refugees and their settlement proved to be a watershed with far-reaching consequences for the country. Dr Kontogiorgi examines the exchange of populations and the agricultural settlement in Greek Macedonia of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Asia Minor and the Pontus, Eastern Thrace, the Caucasus, and Bulgaria during the inter-war period. She examines Greek state policy and the role of the Refugee Settlement Commission which, under the auspices of the League of Nations, carried out the refugee resettlement project. Macedonia, a multilingual and ethnically diverse society, experienced atransformation so dramatic that it literally changed its character. Kontogiorgi charts that change and attempts to provide the means of understanding it. The consequences of the settlement of refugees for the ethnological composition of the population, and its political, social, demographic, andeconomic implications are treated in the light of new archival material. Reality is separated from myth in examining the factors involved in the process of integration of the newcomers and assimilation of the inhabitants - both refugees and indigenous - of the New Lands into the nation-state. Kontogiorgi examines the impact of the agrarian reforms and land distribution and makes an effort to convert the climate of the rural society of Macedonia during the inter-war period. The antagonismsbetween Slavophone and Vlach-speaking natives and refugee newcomers regarding the reallocation of former Muslim properties had significant ramifications for the political events in the region in the years to come. Other recurring themes in the book include the geographical distribution of the refugees, changing patterns of settlement and toponyms, the organisation of health services in the countryside, as well as the execution of irrigation and drainage works in marshlands. Kontogiorgi also throws light upon and analyses the puzzling mixture of achievement and failure which characterizes the history of the region during this transitional period. As the first successful refugee resettlement project of itskind, the 'refugee experiment' in Macedonia could provide a template for similar projects involving refugee movements in many parts of the world today.
- Publication Date:
- 15 / 06 / 2006