Letter sent to Mr. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, regarding the abusive detentions and deportations of Greeks of Pontian origin by the Turkish authorities

To: Mr. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

August 13, 2021

Subject: Abusive detentions and deportations of Greeks of Pontian origin by the Turkish authorities

On August 13, 2021, upon instructions from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, the Greek Embassy in Ankara carried out an emergency demarche to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the illegal detention and deportation order against the President of the Pampontian Federation of Greece, Mr. George Varythymiadis. Mr. Varythymiadis travelled to Istanbul in order to take part, in his capacity as a representative of the Pontian Hellenism, in the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Panagia Soumela Trebizond. Mr. Varythymiadis is known to be particularly active on issues of recognition of the Pontian genocide and has authored well-known work on the subject.

It seems that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has set his sights on Greek of Pontian origin, as reports have it that it is not only the President of the Pampontian Federation, Mr. George Varythymiadis, who has been deported from Turkey.

Information from the website “pontosnews.gr” reports that the Turkish authorities banned the entry of another Pontian. from Thessaloniki, who was travelling by road, also bound for Trebizond and Panagia Soumela. Unlike Mr. Varythymiadis, this man has no connection with the organised Pontian community.

On July 14, 2021, Ms Rosalia Eleftheriadou, Professor of Musicology, was deemed-once again for no discernible reason – persona non grata and remained in custody for 24 hours at Istanbul’s airport, until she was finally returned to Greece without completing her journey to Pontos.

Dr. Myrofora Efstathiadou, also of Pontian origin, was detained at the same airport until her deportation. She arrived in Istanbul on the weekend of May 28, 2021, with her teenage son, and because it was a weekend, she was forced to remain in detention for 48 hours until her deportation.

To these names can be added those of the President of the “Momogeron” Mr. Kostas Alexandridis, the runner Mr. George Zachariadis, and the writer Mr. Michael Kaikounidis, who have also been denied the right to enter Turkey. Mr. Alexandridis was deported in January 2020 and the latter two men in July of the same year.

It is obvious that the above actions are in no way consistent neither with Turkey’s candidacy as an accession country to the European Union, nor with the “Positive EU-Turkey” Agenda. The expulsion of Mr Varythymiadis also raises legitimate questions regarding the protection of the right to freedom of movement of European Citizens.

In light of this latest event, we must keep in mind the necessity of recognizing the Genocide of Pontian Hellenism, which took place mainly  between 1914-1919, at the same time as the Armenian Genocide, which was recognized on its 100th anniversary by the European Parliament in 2015.

I would like to remind you that on May 19, 2021, on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the Pontian Greek Genocide, the MEPs of the New Democracy Delegation in the European Parliament, led by the Vice-President of the European People’s Party, Mr. Vangelis Meimarakis, addressed a letter to the President of the European Parliament, Mr. David Sassoli, in which we stressed that the recognition of the Pontian Genocide is a debt and a duty to European history, while calling for a resolution from the European Parliament on this issue as soon as possible.

The deportation of the President of the Confederation, Mr. George Varythymiadis, has reinforced our decision to continue the battle for the international recognition of the Genocide of our Pontian brothers and sisters.

Honourable Mr. Borrell, it is time for you to take action in relation to the wrongful and unjustified detentions and deportations of Greeks of Pontian origin by the Turkish authorities, and to take part, in your official capacity, in the justified struggle for the recognition of the Genocide of Pontian Greeks at a European level.

Sincerely yours,

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou

Read the answer given by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell Fontelles here.