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Global Centre of Pontian Hellenism to Turkish President: “We expect you to review request of Ecumenical Patriarch for Panagia Soumela Monastery”

The Global Centre of Pontian Hellenism sent a letter to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan regarding the denying of permission to conduct the Divine Liturgy at the Panagia Soumela Monastery.

The letter is addressed to the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Greek Prime Minister, the leaders of the parties and among other things states the following:

Firstly, they commented: “One hundred (100) years have passed since our grandparents, parents and ancestors, due to their national-religious diversity, such as Armenians and Assyrians, became victims and suffered the genocide. As a result, they left their historical homeland of Pontus, where brothers and sisters, villagers and friends lived harmoniously for thousands of years.”

They pointed out: “The first gathering took place in the Monastery in August 1996 organised by the World Council of Pontian Hellenism, in which participated around (300) representatives of Pontian bodies from all over the world, which despite the then prohibitions and problems we faced by the police authorities and the military, we held a Trisagion in its outdoor areas in memory of our lost compatriots.”

“The operation of the Monastery, even only on the day of its feast but also the fact that 1,000,000 pilgrims and tourists visit the Monastery from all over the world every year (as Turkish authorities, Prefect, Mayors of the region, Chambers, entrepreneurs and ordinary people claim) has substantially contributed to the revival of pilgrimage tourism and has been and still is the economic engine for all the professions in the region,” the Global Centre of Pontian Hellenism added.

“The intention of the 2,000,000 million Greeks of Pontian origin, who live in Greece but also in other parts of the world, despite what our ancestors suffered, seek to live side by side peacefully for the benefit of our peoples,” they said.

In addition, the Global Centre of Pontian Hellenism stressed: “We, on our part, would like to inform you that if you make a decision to place the relics of the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in the premises of the renovated Monastery, it would be our pleasure to contribute in every way to the creation of the appropriate conditions for their safekeeping, so that its visitors can have the opportunity to see them and study their history.

We also found out that in the premises of the Monastery and more generally in Turkey there is no appropriate printed or online material on the history of the Icon of “Panagia Soumela” and the Monastery. Therefore, we intend to grant you the rights to publish our work translated into four languages, so that the millions of pilgrims and visitors have the opportunity to be informed about their history.”

Finally, they concluded: “Turkey is a country of 85,000,000 million people, the majority of them are Muslim, and, therefore, has nothing to fear from you giving the opportunity to all of us whose ancestors lived for 2,500 years peacefully in the regions of today’s Turkey, to visit our national-religious symbol. On the contrary, you would benefit by showing respect for religious freedoms and rights. Thus, we expect you to take relevant initiatives in order to review the relevant request of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and to grant the relevant permission for the operation of the Panagia Soumela Monastery.”