On 6-8 December 2019, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Harutyun Marutyan participated in International Conference on the Crime of Genocide organized by the Pan-Pontian Federation of Greece.
The conference days were specially chosen to precede the UN International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, 9 December. 2019 marks the 100th centennial of the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus, a Black Sea region in the Ottoman Empire.
The “International Conference on the Crime of Genocide” was structured in two thematic areas. The objective of the first area was to address and engage with the multiple dimensions of the crime of genocide in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black sea at the end of the Ottoman Empire’s existence. Apart from the historical documentation (it should be noted that there is a monograph on the issue by the former AGMI former acting director, Ph.D. Gevorg Vardanyan), the legal aspects of the crime were also examined, as well as its contemporary sociopolitical and cultural implications for the region. In this context, there is a crucial importance on the international recognition of the genocides committed by the Ottoman Empire. The second thematic area focused on other well-known cases of genocide from different parts of the world, thus providing a comparative approach and a contextualized understanding of a crime that is still haunting humanity.
Dr. Marutyan’s report was titled “To Remember or to Forget the Difficult Past. A View from Yerevan.” The issue of Genocide of Greeks of Pontus has not been raised in Greece for decades. However, as the conference, as well as contacts with organizers, representatives of the descendants of Pontic Greeks has demonstrated the crime was not forgotten; its consequences still haunt the Pontic Greek community. It is also playing a role in the Greek foreign policy, particularly due to the continued denial of the crime by current Turkish leadership, which manifests itself in aggressive behavior and statements. The session with Dr. Marutyan’s report was chaired by Hripsime Harutyunyan, Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Greece.
On 6 December, during the official opening of the conference at the Ceremony Hall of the Acropolis Museum, the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, representatives of the Greek Diaspora and the expert community, and a renowned specialist in international law Alfred De Zayas delivered speeches. A short film about the creation of the term "genocide" by Rafael Lemkin was also screened.
Renown genocide experts, Tessa Hofmann, Benny Morris, Dror Ze’evi, Konstantinos Fotiadis, author of numerous works on the Pontic Greek Genocide (he has dedicated a number of his works to the AGMI Library), Alfred De Zayas, Henry Theriault, Samuel Totten and Israel Charny, as well as Turkish intellectuals Cengiz Aktar, Tamer Çilingir, Carl Wilkens, eyewitness to the Rwandan Genocide, Haider Elias, leader of “Yazda” organization, who spoke about the continuing Yezidi genocide, a number of other well-known Greek specialists delivered speeches during the conference.
At the end of the conference from the top of Pnyx Hill near the Acropolis slope, where citizens of Athens have been gathering since the 6th century BC to make the most important decisions for the city in a democratic way, Head of the Academic Committee of the Conference, 89 years old Israel Charny read the conference announcement. On the evening of the same day, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos received and spoke to the conference participants and organizers at his residence for more than an hour.
AGMI Director Harutyun Marutyan
First day of the conference: a view from the hall
With young volunteers, among them also Armenians
The Prime Minister of Greece is delivering his speech
Harutyun Marutyan with Hripsime Harutunyan
At the Pnyx Hill after the solemn reading of the conference announcement
Conference participants and volunteers
With the President of Greece at the end of the reception