The Pontian Genocide was a tragic chapter in the history of modern Greeks, and the lessons it holds must prevent its repetition anywhere in the world, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday, during opening remarks of the International Conference on the Crime of Genocide.
Organised by the Pan-Pontian Federation of Greece to commemorate the centennial of the genocide of Pontians by Turkey, the conference is taking place at the Acropolis Museum on Friday and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on Saturday and Sunday.
Welcoming the conference, Mitsotakis said its key contribution lay in its focus on the future, or “how we shall learn from it, how we shall prevent the reliving of similar tragedies in our own lives, anywhere in the world.” The historic event, he said, must lead to “results that will arm the modern world to avoid experiencing such brutality again. This will be a heritage for all of humanity, not just Pontian Hellenism.”
Turkey violates international laws
Commenting on the times, the prime minister called out Turkey for its aggressiveness “while trying to gain the role of an uncommon ‘regional leader’ in the wider area” and violating international laws, and he referred to developments in the eastern Mediterranean, including the recent Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding (MoU).
“It’s not the first time Greece faces storms,” Mitsotakis said, “but it has always had the resilience to overcome them, returning to calmer waters. It has always kept its strategy on a straight line but has not hesitated to plan its tactics with flexibility. It has always taken care, however – and I would like to stress this – to choose the right allies.”
Mitsotakis went on to talk about his meeting with the Turkish president two days ago on the sidelines of NATO in London, and reiterated that he had raised issues “sincerely, yet without yielding.” He also underlined that the United States, Russia, Europe, Egypt and Israel have all condemned the MoU signed with Libya, and said he had no illusions about the path of relations with Greece’s neighbour, which would be difficult.
“Unity and, above all, cool-headedness are necessary, this is why next week (parliamentary parties) will be fully briefed behind closed doors at the High Council of Foreign Policy meeting in Parliament,” he added.
Greece will follow the steady path of observing international laws “with an absolute focus on our sovereign rights, playing a leading role in all international fora and forging unity domestically,” he said. The government supports “a responsible patriotism,” he stressed, a policy which keeps communication channels open, is self-confident and realistic, does not scream and shout, but brings results.