Athens is accusing Ankara of trying to “manipulate history” after the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing comments by Greek politicians on the anniversary of the Pontic genocide, the massacre of ethnic Greeks by the Turks during World War I and the subsequent Greek-Turkish war.
“The Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement constitutes yet another unacceptable attempt to manipulate history,” Greece's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday in a statement translated from the Greek.
“The recognition of historical fact, self-criticism and rejecting revisionism are a sign of strength, not weakness. They are a precondition for dialogue conducted in good faith and for the fight against the extremes of nationalism, for the conciliation between peoples and states, and their peaceful coexistence,” it said.
“We all – particularly neighboring Turkey – have a historic responsibility to recognize facts such as the Pontic genocide in order to avoid a repetition of the darkest moments of the past and to heal the wounds that these have left behind.”
In its statement on Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry criticized what it described as “the attempts of some radical groups to cast a shadow on this meaningful day with their imaginary claims against our history.”
“These baseless claims targeting our history bear no relation to reason, conscience, and fairness. This rhetoric is incompatible with our objectives to further our bilateral relations and leaves a negative legacy to future generations,” it said.
It said that the nomination of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize by then Greek prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos “constitutes the clearest proof that there is no such historical issue between the two countries, in contrast to the claims of some irresponsible politicians and radical Greeks.”
Greece has officially recognized the murder of up to 370,000 Greeks who lived on the shores of the Black Sea between 1914 and 1923 as genocide since 1994, designating May 19 an annual day of remembrance.