How a ‘short’ trip forged an enduring relationship

He was raised in a refugee shack in Kalamaria on stories from the Pontus. His grandmother’s stories of life in Argyroupolis, Trabzon, Krioni and Batumi prompted him to make a pilgrimage to the Black Sea that led to 52 trips, 35 books, an Ipekci Prize in 1992 and an Athens Academy Award in 2000. Seeking the homeland of his forebears, he also found friendships and strong ties. Giorgos Andreadis, a fervent supporter of Greek-Turkish friendship, was expelled from Turkey in 1998 due to the influence of his books. But he told Kathimerini that has not changed his mind about the relationship he has with the Black Sea and Turkey, which started in 1960 when he set out from Germany, where he was studying political economy, at the age of 23 to visit the land of his forebears. He grew up in an «extremely anti-Turkish environment,» he said, as his father, a deputy of the parliament of the independent Pontus area, was sentenced to death in absentia and all his other relatives were involved in Pontus political issues. On the other side though was his grandmother, who told him those stories about the Black Sea: the good and the bad, stories of coexistence and friendship. Andreadis set out from Freiburg for Istanbul, Ankara and Smyrna, intending to find out about Cyprus, which was in the news at the time, and to make a side trip to the Pontus to photograph the houses where his family and their friends had lived, But he didn’t see Istanbul or Ankara, because the people in the Pontus were so hospitable that he couldn’t leave. «I set out to spend six days in the Pontus and ended up staying 40. And that became a lifelong relationship.» Thanks to his grandmother’s stories, he was able to find the house of one of his grandfathers, and was so excited when he stayed the night there that he couldn’t sleep a wink.

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