Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a particularly high number of visitors, and not only Greeks, was recorded by the monastery of Panagia Soumela in Pontos for 2020, which is closing again for new restoration work.
A top historian spoke with Sputnik Hellas about this.
About 140,000 visitors were found in 2020 at Panagia Soumela in Pontos, according to Turkish authorities, despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is raging.
Professor Konstantinos Fotiadis, one of the leading historians about Pontian Greeks, expressed his own assessments of the origin of this number:
“From this number we estimate that there were fewer Greeks this year than any other year and some Russians who traditionally go there. But the majority are Turks. In fact, many of them are crypto-Christians or a population with a Greek conscience.”
The teacher explains in detail his reasoning with the number of Greeks:
“Even 100 years after the Pontian genocide, there are still many Turks who are still crypto-Christians. There are many who recognize their Greek origin, but while their grandparents changed their minds due to the circumstances, they transmitted the Greek conscience to them.”
“They are the descendants of the Greek-speaking Muslims, whom the Ecumenical Patriarchate had recognized in number to 180,000, who could not come to Greece because of the Treaty of Lausanne,” he said.
“There were 43,000 crypto-Christians then. At that time, the population of Turkey was about 12 million,” the professor explained.
“If we take into account that the population of Turkey today is about 82 million, by a rough estimate we could say that there are about 2 million in Turkey today with Greek or Christian conscience, some of them crypto-Christians and some others obvious,” he continued.
“Many of them visited Panagia Soumela this year,” he concluded.
Lambros Zacharis is a correspondent for Sputnik Hellas.