The Pontian Greeks have experienced a long, bright, and painful history including a systematically planned genocide, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Tuesday, at an event to reveal plans for a global center to be built at the former Elliniko airport with funds by businessman Spyros Latsis.
The event to present the design of the Hall for the Global Pontian Greeks of Sourmena was held at the "Mikis Theodorakis" Cultural and Conference Center in Argyroupoli, the southern suburb of Athens.
Despite their tragic history that includes persecution, slaughter, and violent attempts at Islamization, Pontian Greeks who left their Asia Minor homes as refugees "brought to Greece their drive and values - their loyalty to country, family, community and traditions, their hard work and tireless inventiveness," Sakellaropoulou said.
As she noted, "Everywhere Pontians settled, in the villages and cities of Macedonia and Thrace, in the neighborhoods of Athens, despite the difficulties of inclusion and integration the first generation endured, they managed to prosper and they also helped Greece prosper. They retained inviolable bonds among them and claimed their uniqueness."
The announcement that a center would be built to preserve rich traditions and collective memory is joyful and moving news, the Greek president said.
Attending the event or delivering speeches were Ministers of Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Citizen Protection Takis Theodorikakos, Alternate Interior Minister Stelios Petsas, Elliniko-Argyroupoli Mayor Yiannis Konstantakatos, Parliament President Constantine Tassoulas, and Lamda Development CEO Odysseas Athanassiou.