Memorial services were held in Athens and Thessaloniki yesterday to mark the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Pontic Greeks during World War I and in the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922 at the hands of Turkish forces as calls intensified for Turkey to issue an apology for the genocide. A memorial to the Pontic Greeks, unveiled in Thessaloniki earlier this month, caused a slight rift between Ankara and Athens when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Premier Costas Karamanlis that there was «sensitivity» toward the issue in Turkey. However, head of the Pontic Federation Giorgos Parharidis said in Athens that Erdogan should publicly apologize to Pontic Greeks. His call was backed by the prefect of Thessaloniki, Panayiotis Psomiadis. «Faced with this past, Turkey owes at least an apology,» he said.