Greek FM indirectly urges Turkey to follow Rwanda's example and admit "dark pages" in their history

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta Nikos Dendias Athens May 20, 2022 Greek

In joint statements with his Rwandan counterpart Vincent Biruta on Friday, one day after the Day of Remembrance of the Greek Genocide in Pontus, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed his hope that other countries will follow Rwanda's example and admit the dark incidents and atrocities of the past.

"Your visit today is taking place just one day after the Day of Remembrance of the Pontian Genocide," Dendias said after his meeting with Biruta. On this day we honour the memory of more than 350,000 Pontian Greeks that were slaughtered or displaced by Ottoman authorities 103 years ago."

"And we would like other countries, in our own wider region, to follow Rwanda's shining example. To admit the dark pages, to reconcile themselves with the past and apologise to the families of the victims of atrocities."

Between 1914 and 1924, up to one million Greeks were killed by the Ottomans and the Young Turks political movement in a genocide that also claims up to 1.5 million Armenians and half a million Assyrians. 350,000 Greeks were killed in the Pontus region alone.

Turkey to this day, despite academic consensus and widespread recognition, denies that they perpetrated a genocide against the Ottoman Empire's Christian minority.

The Greek foreign minister said that Rwanda had become a global model for national reconciliation and that the Genocide Monument in Kigali, which he had visited in November, was a monument of global significance, where thousands of victims of the genocide that had claimed more than 800,000 lives were buried.

"In very little time, one generation, President Kagame succeeded in uniting the country after such a traumatic experience, while at the same time keeping memory alive so that such atrocities are never repeated again in the future," he said.

Dendias described Biruti's visit to Athens as "historic" noting that it was a first visit by a Rwandan foreign minister to Greece, which followed his own visit to Kigali, adding that it was tangible proof of the closer contacts sought by the EU and Greece with Subsaharan Africa.

"Our two countries share the same dedication to the principles of peaceful resolution of differences on the basis of international law, they reject the threat of the use of force or the use of force and believe that treaties must be upheld, that revisionism can have no place in the 21st century," he said.

He underlined that Greece and the EU wanted to forge strong ties with Africa, pointing to his visits to another six African countries apart from Rwanda, and noting that it was an area full of dynamism, with significant economies, a very gifted and youthful workforce but also a great many problems.

He also said that Greece attaches "great importance" to Rwanda as a pillar of stability and security in its wider area, which contributes to a solution of problems and regional economic integration, while playing an important role in international organisations.

Focusing on bilateral relations, Dendias said these were gaining new momentum after the signature of agreements signed by the foreign ministries of the two countries in Kigali and two more signed in Athens on Friday.

He said the two sides were working on the signature of additional agreements in other sectors, such as tourism.

Dendias also conveyed an invitation from President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou to Rwanda's President Paul Kagame to visit Greece.

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