When Greece and Turkey pushed each other to the brink of war five months ago, they did so in the echo of an unprecendented series of concerts. Held in Istanbul and Athens, the events were designed to promote peace and friendship between the two countries.
The concerts were staged by Mikis Theodorakis, Greece's most prominent composer, who has also emerged as its leading voice promoting Greek-Turkish dialogue.
Mr. Theodorakis took the peace crusade into his own hands in early 1986, when he quit his parliamentary seat representing the Greek Communist Party. He was, he said, fed up with both the policies of Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and the Stalinist rigidity of his own party.
Best known outside Greece for his musical score for the film ``Zorba the Greek,'' Theodorakis has since devoted his time to his music and to the Committee of Greek-Turkish Friendship, an organization of artists, writers, intellectuals, and workers from both sides of the Aegean. The formation of such a committee was ``necessary in the absence of dialogue'' between the Turkish and Greek governments, he says.
Theodorakis's quest, while widely hailed, is not well received in all circles. During a recent press conference, Theodorakis fielded a number of questions from Greek journalists who accused him of ``collaboration with the Turkish dictatorship.''
Theodorakis also served earlier this year as president of the Organizing Committee for the Abdi Ipekci Peace and Friendship Prize. Established in 1979, the prizes are awarded every two years for reportage, poetry, prose, painting, and music that promotes cooperation and reconciliation between Greeks and Turks.
The prize is named after a Turkish journalist who held such ideals, once writing that the mass media have the responsibility to choose between ``simplifying or encumbering'' the work of politicians.