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Conclusion of the visit of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Bolaris, to Imvros (Imvros, Gökçeada (İmroz), 4 – 6 March 2019)
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Markos Bolaris, carried out a three-day visit to Imvros (4 – 6 March 2019) where he met with the religious, cultural and educational organisations of the Greek minority, as well as the local administrative bodies, the Provincial Governor, the Prefect and the Mayor.
The Provincial Governor of Çanakkale and the Deputy Minister discussed the excellent potential for further development of Greek-Turkish relations in ‘soft diplomacy’ areas, following Prime Minister Tsipras’ recent visit to Turkey. The Deputy Minister touched upon issues that concern the Greek minority on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos, and proposed the cultural cooperation of archaeological sites excavated by Schliemann, as the area ofTroy falls under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Governor.
The Prefect of Imvros and the Deputy Minister discussed issues the Greek minority of the island faces, such as resolving administrative issues to facilitate Greeks relocating permanently to the island. The Deputy Minister also met with the Mayor of Imvros, who discussed projects for the restoration of the infrastructure serving the communities where the Greek populace resides, and requesting cooperation on tourism matters, which would be greatly aided by a coastal shipping link between Imvros and Greek islands, as noted by the Deputy Minister.
During the meeting with Greek teachers in Panagia, the Deputy Minister congratulated them on their exceptional work and dedication that contributed to the successful re-opening of Greek schools, which have met with international acclaim, such as the recognition by the globally renowned CERN research centre in Switzerland. Their operation to date and the important progress achieved were reviewed, and the needs for further bolstering with human and material resources, due to an increased number of pupils, were recorded. The issues facing the operation of the schools were also discussed at the Deputy Minister’s meeting with the Parent-Teacher Association of the Greek schools. In 2012, Turkey approved the re-opening of a Greek school on Imvros, initially the Kindergarten - Elementary School in 2013 followed by the Middle School-High School in 2015.
The Deputy Minister also met with Metropolitan Cyril of Imvros and Tenedos. At the luncheon held by the Metropolitan in honour of the Deputy Minister, they discussed the cooperation as well as the prospects and future of the historical presence of Greeks on the island, a presence that is integrally linked with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, led by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who hails from Imvros.
The Deputy Minister visited the Elementary School at Aghioi Theodoroi and the Middle School-High School at Agridia, where he met with and spoke to pupils and attended the celebrations organised in his honour. He also toured the sport facilities and laboratories of the schools in Agridia and spoke to the teachers and pupils, whom he congratulated and urged to continue to set their aims high, as he ascertained during his visit, repeating this exhortation at a luncheon held in his honour by the Imvrian Educational and Cultural Association.
Before concluding his visit, the Deputy Minister visited Glyky and Evlambio, as well as Schinoudi, which was once the largest village on Imvros before the Turkish authorities took administrative measures that led to the migration and removal of the overwhelming majority of Greeks from the island.
The Associations thanked the Deputy Minister for Greece’s support, and stressed the need to maintain the rate of increase in the number of Imvrian returnees. They also requested support aimed at bolstering business initiatives in order to ensure the viability of the endeavour, a request to which the Deputy Minister stated he was prepared to respond immediately.