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Minister of Education is demanded to resign for the Pontic genocide

04 November 2015 / 13:11:05  GRReporter
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Violent reactions and a request to resign or to be removed from office is the response to a statement that Minister of Education Nikos Filis made in a television interview. In it, he said that the massacre of 353,000 Pontic Greeks and the banishment of thousands of other Greeks from the Pontic region by the movement of Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire from 1914 to 1923 was not genocide but bloody ethnic cleansing.

The Minister's statements caused confusion among the government and the narrow circle of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras disaffiliated with his words. SYRIZA’s coalition partner Independent Greeks condemned the position expressed by Filis and 45 deputies of New Democracy organized a petition demanding his removal from office. The unions of Pontic Greeks responded more than angrily and their members demanded the Minister to resign.

According to them, Filis made the scandalous statement in response to a question about the position he had taken on the issue in previous years. "I said that as a historian, considering the positions of many historians and international relations experts. We made a distinction between bloody ethnic cleansing and genocide as a phenomenon. This does not mean that we do not recognize the blood, pain and everything that Pontic people have suffered due to the cruelty of Turks. But genocide, as a strictly scientific term, is something different," he said. Then he specified that this was his personal position, stressing that he would not want to impose his personal opinion as a state policy.

The official position of Greece on the events is that there was genocide of Pontic Greeks. In 1994, the Greek parliament adopted a decision that defined the events as genocide and declared 19 May the commemoration day of the genocide of Pontic Greeks in Asia Minor.

Filis’ words provoked strong reactions among all parties in the Greek parliament. New Democracy president Evangelos Meimarakis urged the Prime Minister to take action and the other three candidates for the party leadership, Adonis Georgiadis, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Apostolos Tzitzikostas, demanded his removal from office. PASOK responded in a similar way. According to the Communist Party the government is launching a debate on matters that aim to turn public attention away from the austerity measures "that are equally to blame on the government and other parties."

Golden Dawn announced it would file a lawsuit against the Minister of Education in compliance with the adopted law against racism. One of its regulations defines as a crime the denial of genocide recognized by the state.

Meanwhile, the reactions on social networks continue. Quite a few users perceive as unacceptable the fact that the resignation of the Minister of Education has been requested because of the particular statement. According to them, Nikos Filis actually has to be removed from office but because of his policy in the field of education. They cite his scandalous statements for the introduction of VAT on private education and his offensive attitude to those parents who have preferred to enrol their children in private schools. As emphasized by leading commentators, Filis and his companions are facing the results of their irresponsible behaviour from the time when SYRIZA was in opposition. "They called ‘genocide’ the cuts in allowances and the transfer of municipal employees to other departments. When you are the first to make words meaningless, face the consequences and stop speaking," they point out

Tags: PoliticsGreek Minister of EducationStatements about the Pontic genocideRequested resignation from oppositionNikos Filis
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