Last Sunday night I heard a programme on Radio 3 about Byzantium which is one of a number on BBC radio recently to coincide with the new exhibition at the Royal Academy. The programme can still be heard on the BBC iPlayer for a couple more days. It was a fairly routine run through the history of Constantinople but the part that interested me came at the end (at about 40 minutes) where it started addressing modern Turkish attitudes to the Byzantine past. Apparently, in Turkey, study of Byzantine history was largely unknown until recently and classics departments were also rare and regarded with deep suspicion. However it seems attitudes are changing and there is an openness to seeing this period as part of the history of the country now. In fact the last speaker goes so far as to say that Byzantium is part of the Turkish past and has nothing to do with Greece! Maybe this is not exactly a very new development. I remember reading in my guide book on a trip there in 2001, that the Turks even lay claim to Homer as their own being from Smyrna.
There is a story in the Tablet today about a visit of the Austrian Cardinal Schönborn to the Islamic theological faculty of Ankara regarding protection for religious minorities which indicates that attitudes may be changing in Turkey. An interesting situation given the hardening of attitudes elsewhere in the world, notably Iraq, and one that gives a bit of hope.