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Pontian Genocide Commemorated at AHI Noon Forum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
May 15, 2003 No. 26 (202) 785-8430

Pontian Genocide Commemorated at AHI Noon Forum

WASHINGTON, DC—On May 12, 2003, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a noon forum in commemoration of the Pontian Genocide featuring Panos Stavrianidis, President of the Pan-Pontian Federation of the U.S. & Canada. His presentation, titled "Turkey's Need to Acknowledge Responsibility for the Genocide of the Pontian Hellenes in 1914-1923," gave a brief historical overview of the events surrounding the Pontian Genocide and noted reasons why recognition of this atrocity is critical to stability in the southeastern Mediterranean region.

The Pontian Genocide is officially commemorated every year on May 19 in remembrance of the 353,000 Hellenes of the Pontos region (in the modern-day Black Sea coast area of Turkey) that fell prey to the Turkish establishment alongside hundreds of thousands of Armenians and Assyrians.

The atrocities waged against the Pontic Greeks began three months before the outbreak of World War I and six months before the Turks entered the war as allies with Austro-Hungary and Germany. It was at this point when the Turks began “to implement their plan for the extermination of the Christians through persecution, massacre, attacks by irregular forces and systematic deportation of the Greeks living in Thrace, Western Asia Minor and the northeastern provinces of Chaldea and Erzerum,” said Mr. Stavrianidis.

Supporting the Pontic Greeks’ legitimate claim to genocide, Mr. Stavrianidis noted:

“In this Genocide we have the killing of members of a specific ethnic group; the infliction of serious bodily and mental harm on the group; the deliberate subjection of the group to conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part; and the forcible transfer of children to another ethnic group. We have, in other words, all the acts that, according to the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1948, constitute this tremendous crime against humanity. This crime of Genocide.”

Mr. Stavrianidis affirmed support of recent efforts at rapprochement between the Greek and Turkish governments. However, the recognition of wrongdoings on the part of the Turkey is essential in order to pave a stable path for a “solid and sincere friendship [between Greece and Turkey] in the future.” Working towards this, the vindication sought by Pontic Greeks from the international community “will not take the form of material reparations or criminal liability” but rather the “recognition of the historic events that are quite literally of a moral order,” said Mr. Stavrianidis.

He pointed out:

“We believe that none of these goals [aimed at rapprochement] can be attained if Turkey continues to challenge the legal status quo in Thrace and in the Aegean and to consolidate and legitimize the occupation of northern Cyprus. The tolerance shown towards Turkish policy by the international community has only encouraged the Turks in the intractable assertion of their demands.”

Panos Stavrianidis is a Greek American community leader who for nearly three decades has focused on bringing greater attention to the Genocide of Pontian Hellenes in Asia Minor, the Cyprus issue and the Macedonian issue. He has organized two scientific forums regarding the Pontian Genocide (New York in 1998, and Boston in 1999), and has participated in all five World Pontian Congresses (Thessaloniki 1985, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2002) as a speaker and member of the organizing committee.

A summary of Mr. Stavrianidis presentation is attached (click here), and digital photos from the AHI Noon Forum are available by contacting Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.

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The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and its affiliate organizations, the American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC), the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF), and the AHI Business Network, a division of the AHI, are working together under one roof, to provide a joint program for strengthening United States relations with Greece and Cyprus and within the American Hellenic community.

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