A few days ago, I got a forward. I get a few of those. I get too many of those.
I never thought I’d be blogging about them.
This particular email was informing me that Lonely Planet magazine printed a two-page spread with the catchy title ‘How about Turkey for Christmas’ inviting people to catch some winter sun on the island of Kastelorizo.
Which is in Greece. Not in Turkey.
There is even a Greek flag in one of the beachfront public buildings on the edge of the photo, which kind of gives the game away.
So Lonely Planet had a d’oh moment and I had a laugh.
But the Greeks went bananas.
Greek TV is reporting on this ‘despicable act of propaganda’, bloggers are frothing at the mouth about the ‘known Turkish-leaning tendencies of Lonely Planet’, the ministry of external affairs is ‘monitoring the situation closely’ and I am aghast.
That people are seriously thinking that this is more than a mistake.
That people seriously believe that Turkey could be using this as a strategy for territorial expansion or political destabilisation in Greece.
That people seriously believe Lonely Planet would actively compromise their credibility in such a way just to do Turkey’s presumed bidding over an island for which Turkey has no known annexation agenda.
Obviously Greece and Turkey are not the best of friends. Never have been. But there is no actual territorial dispute over Kastelorizo. Disputes over the continental shelf or national airspace? Yes. Over Kastelorizo? No.
Unless you assume that Turkey is after every Greek island near their coast. Which many in Greece do.
This paranoia is not new.
Foreign affairs coverage in the press, political history coverage in schoolbooks and educational material – all work on the simple storyline of the little friendless nation whose land possessions are in constant danger, whose dignity and interests are under constant assault; the little country that needs to forever be vigilant.
So here we are talking about Lovely Planet’s political positioning, Turkey’s agents abroad and Greece’s diplomatic retaliation options. This is serious, we are told. Of course it’s serious. But not as a threat to Greece’s territorial integrity. Not as a threat to peace and stability in the Med.
This is serious because when you set off travelling, your Lonely Planet is your bible. And if they manage to leave you with the impression that a tiny Greek island off the coast of Turkey is in a different country to the one it’s actually in, then what else are they getting wrong?
And while my friends in Greece see this as a diplomatic episode, I’m thinking thank God I've always been a Rough Guide gal.
Paranoid? You bet ya.