Academy of Athens to celebrate the achievements and contributions of the Greek Diaspora

Academy of Athens to celebrate the achievements and contributions of the Greek Diaspora 1

The Academy of Athens and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad & Public Diplomacy of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs have organised a one-day conference dedicated to the Greek Diaspora, entitled “Greek Diaspora – History, Achievements and Contributions to Greece”.

Through this event, both institutions aim at providing an overall, objective, view on the two-way connection between Greeks or those of Greek ethnic background that live in other countries and their homeland, while providing a comprehensive approach to a multidimensional chapter of Greek national history.

In this context, presentations by prominent experts and personalities will be hosted, focusing on various scientific and cultural fields – Physical Sciences, Ethical and Political Sciences, as well as Letters and the Fine Arts.

The event will be held in a hybrid form, in compliance with all health protocols due to Covid-19, and will include the physical presence of most speakers and a restricted number of participants, as well as live streaming available HERE  for a world-wide audience.

The conference is scheduled for  15th November 2021, 09.00 – 18.00 Academy of Athens Megaron, East Chambre, 28 Panepistimiou Street, Athens.

The Greek diaspora (or Hellenic diaspora)  are the communities of Greek people living outside Greece. Such places historically include Cyprus, Albania, North Macedonia, parts of the Balkans, southern Russia, Ukraine, Asia Minor, the region of Pontus, Eastern Anatolia, Georgia, the South Caucasus, Egypt, southern Italy, and Cargèse in Corsica. The term also refers to communities newly established by Greek migration outside these traditional areas during the 20th and 21st centuries, including farther-flung countries like the United States and Australia.

The Greek diaspora is one of the oldest and largest in the world, with an attested presence from Homeric times to the present. Examples of its influence range from the role played by Greek expatriates in the emergence of the Renaissance, through liberation and nationalist movements involved in the fall of the Ottoman Empire, to commercial developments such as the commissioning of the world’s first supertankers by shipping magnates Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos.

In Archaic Greece, the trading and colonizing activities of Greeks from the Balkans and Asia Minor propagated Greek culture, religion and language around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. Greek city-states were established in Sicily, southern Italy, Magna Graecia, northern Libya, eastern Spain, the south of France, and the Black Sea coast, and the Greeks founded over 400 colonies in these areas.

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Achaemenid Empire marked the beginning of the Hellenistic period, which was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization in Asia and Africa; the Greek ruling classes established their presence in Egypt, West Asia, and Northwest India.

Many Greeks migrated to the new Hellenistic cities founded in Alexander’s wake, as geographically dispersed as Uzbekistan and Kuwait. Seleucia, Antioch and Alexandria were among the largest cities in the world during Hellenistic and Roman times.
Greeks spread across the Roman Empire, and in the eastern territories the Greek language (rather than Latin) became the lingua franca. The Roman Empire was Christianized in the fourth century AD, and during the late Byzantine period the Greek Orthodox form of Christianity became a hallmark of Greek identity

After the Byzantine–Ottoman Wars, which resulted in the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Ottoman conquest of Greek lands, many Greeks fled Constantinople (now Istanbul) and found refuge in Italy. They brought ancient Greek writings that had been lost in the West, contributing to the Renaissance. Most of these Greeks settled in Venice, Florence, and Rome.

Between the fall of the Empire of Trebizond to the Ottomans in 1461 and the second Russo-Turkish War in 1828–29, thousands of Pontic Greeks migrated (or fled) from the Pontic Alps and eastern Anatolia to Georgia and other southern regions of the Russian Empire, and (later) the Russian province of Kars in the South Caucasus. Many Pontic Greeks fled their homelands in Pontus and northeastern Anatolia and settled in these areas to avoid Ottoman reprisals after supporting the Russian invasions of eastern Anatolia in the Russo-Turkish Wars from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Others resettled in search of new opportunities in trade, mining, farming, the church, the military, and the bureaucracy of the Russian Empire.

During the 20th century, many Greeks left the traditional homelands for economic and political reasons; this resulted in large migrations from Greece and Cyprus to the United States, Australia, Canada, Brazil, The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, The United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Georgia, Italy, Armenia, Russia, Philippines, Chile, Mexico and South Africa, especially after World War II (1939–45), the Greek Civil War (1946–49) and the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

After World War I, most Pontian and Anatolian Greeks living in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) were victims of Muslim Turkish intolerance for Christians in the Ottoman Empire. More than 3.5 million people, including Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Jews, were killed in the regimes of the Young Turks and Mustafa Kemal from 1914 to 1923.
Greeks in Asia Minor fled to modern Greece, and the Russian Empire (later the USSR) was also a major destination.

After the Greek Civil War, many communist Greeks and their families fled to neighboring Yugoslavia, the USSR and the Soviet-dominated states of Eastern Europe (especially Czechoslovakia). Hungary founded a village (Beloiannisz) for Greek refugees, and many Greeks were resettled in the former Sudeten German region of northern Czechoslovakia around Krnov (Jägerndorf). Sweden also admitted large numbers of Greeks, and over 17,000 Greek-Swedish descendants live in the country. Although many immigrants later returned to Greece, these countries still have a number of first- and second-generation Greeks who maintain their traditions.

With the fall of Communism in eastern Europe and the USSR, Greeks of the diaspora immigrated to modern Greece’s main urban centers of Athens, Thessaloniki, and Cyprus; many came from Georgia.

Pontic Greeks are Greek-speaking communities originating in the Black Sea region, particularly from the Trebizond region, the Pontic Alps, eastern Anatolia, Georgia, and the former Russian south-Caucasus Kars Oblast. After 1919–23, most of these Pontic Greek and Caucasus Greek communities resettled in Greek Macedonia or joined other Greek communities in southern Russia and Ukraine.