Historic Bonds Between Greece and Armenia Remain Unbroken



Armenians demonstrating at Athens’ Syntagna Square on Wednesday. Credit: Mark Mathews/Greek Reporter

The recent armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area has Greece siding with the Armenians, as Turkey has firmly planted itself on the side of the Azeris.

Greece has centuries-old bonds of friendship with the eastern country, and unfortunately the two peoples share many painful experiences as well, since Greeks and Armenians suffered greatly at the hand of the modern Turkish state in the early twentieth century.

Up until the 5th century AD, Armenians used the Greek alphabet in writing their language. During the Byzantine period, Greeks and Armenians coexisted in complete amity in the great Orthodox state of the East. The Armenian Orthodox Church, which is the first Orthodox church in the world to be officially recognized, followed parallel paths with the Greek Orthodox Church.

The ties of the two peoples were forged more intensely during the period under Turkish rule which was sealed by two great catastrophes: the defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 and the fall of Constantinople, in 1453.

They were connected with the wider political, economic, social, cultural, national and religious developments of the region. Armenians and Greeks shared the same fate, lived for centuries in common homes, and shared experiences and cultural identities, leading them to bond in many ways.

Perhaps most meaningful of all, however, is the fact that the two peoples were victims of the same perpetrator. In the first Armenian massacres of the 1890s, the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the Pontian Genocide of the same period, the two peoples were slaughtered by the Turks and faced the same tragic fate of forced expatriation and exile.

The Armenian neighborhood in Smyrna was the first to be set on fire by Kemal Ataturk’s army in 1922. One hundred thousand Armenians followed the Greeks in their violent exit which became the sad epilogue of the Greek-Armenian story in Asia Minor.

Why Greeks Stand with Armenians

A Greek-American explains why Greeks stand with Armenians and the values that have been uniting the two nations throughout history: "From the refugees of the illegal invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus, to the innocent women and children facing ethnic cleansing in Afrin, Syria. We remember April 24, 1915 to show the Republic of Turkey that we won't remain silent to the crimes and injustices of Turkish governments, past and present. Molon Lave!" ~ Ioannis Pavlos Fidanakis

Posted by Greek Reporter on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Greek American explains why Greeks stand with Armenians. Credit: Greek Reporter

More than 40,000 ethnic Armenians live harmoniously as Greek citizens in many areas of the country, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Serres, Kavala, Xanthi, Komotini, Kalamata, Larissa, Argos, Corinth, Megara, Lavrio, Corfu, Chios , Mytilene, Samos, and Crete.

Eight thousand Greeks lived in independent Armenia, according to a 1979 census, although this number may have decreased substantially by subsequent population movements, mainly to Greece and former Soviet Republics.

The Greek language is being taught as a second foreign language at the University of Yerevan, at the Brassov Linguistic University, and the Theological School and Military Academy in Armenia.

Greece was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia upon its independence, which was won on September 21, 1991. There has been a Greek Embassy in Yerevan since 1993 and a corresponding Armenian Embassy in Athens.

Greece is one of the countries that officially recognizes the Genocide of the Armenians by the Ottomans in 1915. Greece also grants development and humanitarian assistance to Armenia and has supported that country’s rapprochement with European institutions.

Since Armenia’s declaration of independence, the two countries have cooperated within the framework of international organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and the BSEC, while Greece firmly supports the further development of EU-Armenian relations.

Greece officially recognized the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey as a genocide in 1999. In 2014, it also enacted a law making it a crime to publicly deny this and other genocides.

The Armenian Parliament, for its part, correspondingly unanimously passed a resolution condemning “the genocide of Greeks and Assyrians perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1923.”

The International Association of Genocide Scholars similarly concluded in 2007 that “the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic and Anatolian Greeks.”

Successive Turkish governments have vehemently denied this fact.

Turkey has often slammed both Armenia and Greece on the issue of the Armenian genocide and the ethnic cleansing of the Greeks of Smyrna in 1922.

But as Turkey refuses to acknowledge its violent past and pretends that it is the recipient of unjustified hostilities, more and more people are discovering the truth about the atrocities perpetrated by the Turkish state in the early parts of the twentieth century and on Cyprus in 1974.