Victims of Pontian Greeks Genocide commemorated in Armenia


May 19 2004

YEREVAN, MAY 19, ARMENPRESS: The Greek ambassador to Armenia,
Antonios Vlavianos, other dignitaries, government officials and
ordinary Armenians commemorated today the memory of hundreds of
thousands of Pontian Greeks mercilessly massacred by the government
of Turkey between 1914-1922. The commemoration ceremony was held at
Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan, erected in commemoration of the
victims of Armenian genocide of 1915, also committed by the government
of Turkey.

Of the 700,000 Greeks living in Pontus (the area stretching along the
southern coastline of the Black Sea) in 1914, 300,000 were killed
as a result of Turkish government policy and the remainder became
refugees. “Three millennia of the Greek and Armenian presence was
wiped out by a deliberate policy of creating a Turkey for the Turks.
The Pontian people were denied the right to exist, the right of respect
for their national and cultural identity, and the right to remain on
land they had lived on for countless generations, ” the ambassador
said addressing the present.

Mr. Vlavianos said the tragedy experienced by both nations have
forged closer ties and links between Armenians and Greeks, adding also
that the memory of innocent victims will never be forgotten. He said
all efforts will be exerted to make both genocides internationally
acknowledged and condemned so that to prevent future repetitions of
such horrible crimes.

“The genocide of Pontian Greeks was recognized only by the
government of modern Hellenic Republic, which is not deemed as
its priority foreign policy issue, unlike Armenia which has made
significant progress in pushing for the 1915 genocide’s international
recognition. Greece has officially recognized the Armenian genocide,”
he said, explaining that Armenia did not acknowledge the genocide of
Pontian Greeks because of the absence of an official request on the
part of Greek government.

Around 1,500,000 Armenians and 300,000 Pontian Greeks were annihilated
through exile, starvation, cold, illness, slaughter, murder, gallows,
axe, and fire. The Pontians now lie scattered all over the world as a
result of the genocide and their unique history, language (the dialect
is a valuable link between ancient and modern Greek), and culture
are endangered and face extinction. A double crime was committed –
genocide and the uprooting of a people from their ancestral homelands
of three millennia. The Christian nations were not only witnesses
to this horrible and monstrous crime, which remains unpunished,
but for reasons of political expediency and self interest have,
by their silence, pardoned the criminal. The Ottoman and Kemalist
Turks were responsible for the genocide of the Pontian people,
the most heinous of all crimes according to international law. The
international community must recognize this crime.