Athens, November 4, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Education Minister, Nikos Filis, is taking the fire of the opposition for his statements on Star television, where he described as an “ethnic cleansing” and not a “genocide” the massacre of Pontians launched by the Kemalist troops in the early 20th century.
After the reactions, circles close to Filis spoke of an “already expressed personal view, which however, does not question the official position of Greece on this issue”.
Attack from ND
Attack on the Education Minister launched the president of ND, Vangelis Meimarakis.
He calls a “ruthless challenge to the national memory, but also to the decisions of the Greek Parliament, the statements of Education Minister who questions the genocide of the Greeks of Pontos” and adds:
“While, with its decision in 1994 the Greek Parliament officially recognized the Pontian Genocide and declared May 19 as a “Memorial Day for the Genocide of Greeks in Asia Minor Pontos, “twenty years later the education minister sets aside that decision and denies the Genocide of Pontians, arguing that he took this position as a journalist”.
Meimarakis argues that ” personal obsessions cannot overturn the Greek History” and concludes that “the prime minister should take a position on Filis’ mistake”.
The other candidates for the presidency of ND also made statements:
Mitsotakis: “The distortion of historical truth from the Left has surpassed all limits. An ignorant of history can’t be Minister of Education!”.
Georgiadis: It is impossible for Mr. Phillis remain in his position after having challenged the unanimous decision of the House on the Genocide.
Tzitzikostas: The personal obsessions of Mr. Filis are hazardous for the nation. Mr Tsipras let him go.
The reaction of ANEL
“With regard to the public statement of the minister for education Mr. N. Filis on the genocide of the Pontic Greeks, we declare that the Independent Greeks do not adopt the statements of the minister”, said the spokeswoman, Marina Chrysoveloni.
“We believe that we have no right to annihilate the designed tragic uprooting of thousands of people who were violently sacrificed”, he said and added that “the history of Pontos has been and will remain undoubtedly true”.
The reaction of PASOK
The Democratic coalition called Filis’ statement a challenge, calling unhistorical the statement made by the minister of education.
“The Greek Parliament has made in 1994 the institutional recognition of the genocide of the Pontic Greeks with n. 2193/1994, with the establishment of the Memorial Day for the genocide of Greeks of Pontos. Four years later, with n. 2645/1998 it established the September 14 as day national memory of the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor, a major effort of PASOK, which was launched in 1991 at the initiative of Andreas Papandreou.
The goal, at first, was the official recognition by the Greek Parliament, of the genocide of 353,000 Pontians, which took place by the Turks from 1916 to 1923 and the introduction of “national day of memory” to cover a large national , historical, moral and political vacuum regarding the systematic genocide of the Greeks of Pontus, which had started in 1916 and ended in 1923. The statement from Mr. Filis, refusing to recognise the genocide of the Pontian is both challenging and unhistorical for an education minister, for the Government which implicitly devalues the decision of the Greek Parliament and certainly for the prime minister who honored him with this position! We urge the PM to take it upon himself to clarify the position of the government!”, PASOK says.
Golden Dawn to file a lawsuit
“The malicious denial of the Pontian Genocide is a criminal offense and the atheist minister of Syriza will have to give explanations for racist behavior against the Greeks. The legal department of the People’s Association Golden Dawn is preparing a lawsuit – based on the notorious anti-racism law – which the Greek citizens will submit against the inexcusable Syriza partizan”, says the Golden Dawn.
Internal party reactions
Filis’ statements have caused reactions inside SYRIZA
“The history of Pontos has been and will undoubtedly remain true”, stated the deputy foreign minister, Ioannis Amanatidis. “Scientific approaches can be expressed freely in a democracy, however, the government’s position is known and publicly expressed both with a statement of former government spokesman on 05.19.2015, and the greetings in the respective days of memory of the Genocide of the Pontic Greeks in the past”.
Iraklion MP, Y. Michelogiannakis, stresses that “when we refer to Pontus Greeks, we are talking about a genocide and not ethnic cleansing”.
Pontian Associations express their anger over Philis’statements, while legal circles raise concerns about whether the refusal of the Minister to recognize the genocide of Pontian activates the provisions of the anti-racist law.
The Pontian Genocide was officially recognized by the House in 1994, while based on the anti-racism law there is a range of penalties, including even the imprisonment for those who deny the genocides recognised by the Parliament.