Greece claims that between 1916-1923 the Greek Orthodox population then living in the eastern Black Sea region of Turkiye became the victim of a systematic policy of extermination by the Turkish authorities of the day and that those who were able to escape did so by taking refuge in Greece. On 24 February 1994, the Greek Parliament adopted “19 May” as a “Day for Commemorating the Turkish genocide against the Pontus Greeks”. But history and the facts are at odds with Greek claims and point unmistakably in another direction.


The term “Pontus” evolves from “Pont-Euxin”, which in ancient Greek denotes the Black Sea. The emergence of Hellenic influence in the Black Sea region can be traced back to the Ionnians who established Greek type city-states in Sinop and Trabzon in the VI. century B.C.. The Macedonian King of Philippe and his son, Alexander the Great, drove the Persians out of the South-East Black Sea Coasts and consolidated Greek influence in the region. Following the takeover of Istanbul by Catholic/Latin Europeans, the Byzantines living in Istanbul emigrated to the Eastern Black Sea region and founded the Kingdom of Pontus. Despite the fact that it was unable to maintain full and effective control over the region, the Pontus Kingdom managed to survive for some 250 years and later came under the domination of the Ottoman Empire in 1461 following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet.

Though formerly an element of simple folklore, the term “Pontus” appeared after the events in Cyprus in 1974, loaded with ideological content with the aim of fuelling hostile feelings towards Turkiye. It was contemplated by Greek policy-makers that the exploitation of the “Pontus” idea would help in their efforts to undermine the political and cultural principles on which the modern Turkish state stands and would also provide a pretext for forcing out members of the Turkish Minority from Western Thrace.

The Greek priority target is the destabilisation of the multi-cultural ethnic composition of Turkiye, presumably to be achieved by inciting micro-nationalist feelings. The aim is to challenge Turkiye’s territorial integrity.

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