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Greece Vows to Fight for Recognition of the Pontian Genocide

Pontian Genocide
Soldiers dressed in Traditional Pontic costumes honor the memory of Pontian Greeks at an event at Syntagma Square in 2021. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece vowed on Friday to continue the fight for the recognition of the Pontian Genocide by the international community.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greece will fight for international recognition until Remembrance Day becomes Vindication Day.

“This year we commemorate the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus and Asia Minor, who were persecuted and annihilated. While those who escaped left their ancestral homes in order to be resurrected in the motherland. Always keeping their history and tradition alive.

“The fight for international recognition of the Genocide continues. Until Remembrance Day becomes Vindication Day,” Mitsotakis said.

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou stressed that recognizing crimes against humanity is important in order to prevent their repetition in the future.

“Today, the day of remembrance of the genocide of the Pontic Greeks, the thoughts of all of us turn to the hundreds of thousands of innocents who, 104 years ago, were exterminated or forcibly displaced from their ancestral homes.

“At the same time, we reflect with gratitude on the important role played in the development of our homeland and in the richness of our cultural identity by those of the uprooted Pontians who managed to escape the persecution of the Ottoman Empire and find refuge in our country.

“Today’s anniversary reminds the international community of the importance, for the peaceful coexistence of peoples, of recognising crimes against humanity in order to prevent their repetition in the future,” the Greek President said.

Similar statements were made on Friday by opposition politicians and ministers.

Leader of main opposition SYRIZA said that his party will campaign for the establishment of a permanent committee in the Parliament which will be tasked to promote the international recognition of the Genocide of Hellenism.

He also called for the protection of Christian monuments in Turkey.

Greece marks May 19th as Pontic Genocide Remembrance Day, to honor the memory of approximately 353,000 Pontian Greeks exterminated by the New Turks and the Ottoman Empire between 1916 and 1923.

Turkey dismissed Pontian Genocide

Turkey has been dismissive of calls for the recognition of the Pontian Genocide, saying that Greek politicians and groups raise “imaginary claims targeting our history.”

“May 19, 1919, is a blessed date when a nation started its struggle for survival under the leadership of our great leader Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Türkiye. This unique liberation struggle has taken its place in history as a lesson that Greece, which attempted to invade Anatolia with the support of the imperialist powers of the period, should never forget,”  the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Ankara considers it a “futile effort” to target this special day, which represents the beginning of Türkiye’s War of Independence, through the “baseless Pontus claims of some radical groups” against Türkiye’s history, the ministry added.

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