Du Malone writes: The Black sea has long been the meeting point, but also the flashpoint, between cultures. According to Neil Ascherson, in his book Black Sea, our notions of civilisation and barbarism start here.
Ascherson quotes Edith Hall, writing in Inventing the barbarian: ‘The story of the invention of the barbarian is the story of the Greeks ‘conflict with the Persians’.
This specific dualism, according to Ascherson, associates with others: ‘It was not only the Scythians whose aporia was barbaric in contrast to Greek autochthony and settledness. It was the Persian or Asian whose servility, luxuriosness and cowardice were barbaric‘ to the Greeks and, by extension, Europeans.
So our manager, Grigor Pasha – who, he tells us, had a Bulgarian mother and a Turkish father and was born during a ferry trip across the Black Sea — embodies much of the spirit, but also the tension, of the region.
A meeting point creates, of course, the opportunity for trade. The desire to exploit the potential for Euro-Asian trade constantly reasserts itself.
As I mentioned, in my essay ‘The Black sea as a region‘, Teodor Baconschi has argued that ‘Europe needs, in the medium run, a second maritime hub, since Rotterdam (and Northern Europe, in general) are well nigh saturated’.
And a recent report from the Gagra Institutes foresees the development of Anaklia (in Georgia) into ‘a world-class port bringing a positive economic impact on countries of South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East’.
Other ports, in Ukraine and Romania, have pretensions too. The stakes are high.
Grigor Pasha, man of the times
This is a world well known to Mr Pasha, who between his playing and managerial days worked for some years in the merchant navy.
To date, during his role as manager of Pomorie on the Black Sea coast, Pasha’s foot-in-both-camps identity has occasioned little comment. His support for 1461 Trabzon is a matter of public knowledge, but goes unremarked.
We must hope it stays that way.
Credit for the header image: ‘Black Sea — Bulgaria — Seascape’ by Zybo Sylvens, generously made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.