Ladies and Gentlemen,
The great Pontian studies teacher Odysseas Lampsidis, who contributed more than anyone else to the cataloguing, recovery and promotion of Pontian Hellenism, very rightly said this: “The Pontian Greeks of the first and second generation are connected to their homeland through experiences and memories.” I would add that the third generation, too, is connected via the stories told by older generations. There is only one way the next generations can become connected to the Pontus: And this is through knowledge. Knowledge of the history and culture of the Pontus.
Actually, the only ‘means’ the Pontians had, when they left their homeland, for preserving and passing on their history and culture was to safeguard collective memory through their experiences, memories and language, through narratives. “The death of a language means the loss of a way of interpreting the world; it means the fall of the culture connected with this language,” the French linguist Klaude Hagege maintained.
The coming generations’ connection with the Pontus will depend on knowledge of the history and culture of the Pontus. Until now, studies in the culture and history of the Pontus – as a separate branch of learning – were not taught systematically at any academic institution in Greece. Nor does it exist abroad as a discrete subject of study. It is incorporated into various departments, such as Eastern, Byzantine or Ottoman studies, and departments dealing with the Near East and Caucasus regions. Nevertheless, in recent years there have been so many publications and studies, so many conferences and articles, so much scientific interest, in general, in the Pontus that the top English historian of the Byzantine Empire, Anthony Bryer � who also studied the Pontus � spoke at the 1st international conference, held in his honour, of a “Pontian studies renaissance.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this context, I am greatly pleased and moved to welcome the establishment of the Chair of Pontian Studies at Aristotle University’s School of Philosophy, here in Thessaloniki, with Kyriakos Chatzikyriakidis, a distinguished scientist, teaching, and with funding ensured by the “Ivan Savvidi” Charitable Foundation.
I have been informed that the Pontian Studies chair has many very interesting objectives: Research, study and systematic recording of the history and cultural of the geographical Pontus in modern times; teaching of Pontian history of the same period; interconnection with the structures, programmes of studies and research programmes that already exist at Greek universities and research centres; coordination of research in the field of Pontic Hellenism; a five-year research programme entitled “digitization of the timeless presence of Hellenism in the geographical space of the Pontus;” collaboration with universities, research centres and scientists abroad whose focus is on related scientific issues; hosting of and participation in international scientific conferences in Greece and abroad; publication of research and articles in reputable international journals.
With all my heart, I wish the teachers and students strength and every success in the extremely important work they are beginning and that will certainly lead, progressively and “insensibly”, as Cavafy says, to our rediscovering the way of Greekness.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic