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Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis' welcome address at the 2nd International Conference "Cappadocia, land of Culture"

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am greatly honoured and pleased to be here on behalf of the Greek government to declare the opening of the 2nd international scientific symposium on the historical, linguistic and cultural tradition of Cappadocia. It is the very least we can do in recognition of the contribution the Greeks of Cappadocia have made through the centuries to Ecumenical Hellenism and culture.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the region of Central Anatolia, which has been called Cappadocia for 4,000 years now, the Greek presence was unbroken from ancient times and intrinsically linked to Christianity since the 1st century BC. The geographers Pausanias and Strabo, the pioneering surgeon of antiquity Aretaeus, the epic hero Digenes Akritas, the Emperors Nikephoros Phokas and John Tzimiskes, the Three Hierarchs, the Saints of our time, Arsenios and Paisios, as well as our great poets Cavafy and Seferis, hailed from Cappadocia.

With the Asia Minor catastrophe, the Cappadocians were uprooted from their ancestral homes – centuries-old hearths – and came to Greece, bringing not just memories of their adored homelands, but also customs and folkways, music and dances, flavours and traditions, priceless frames of reference and identity. This wealth makes up a unique mosaic and holds up Cappadocia as a "land of Culture," recognised by UNESCO in 1985 as a World Heritage Site.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The rich legacy of the Cappadocian Greeks is and will remain vital. This legacy is particularly well known to those of us who come from Thessaloniki, because it was preserved thanks to the tireless efforts of the Cappadocians, a large number of whom found a new home in northern Greece.

The Foreign Ministry's General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad has put this conference under its auspices, not as a symbolic gesture, but as a manifestation of our respect for this centuries-old legacy, and I would like to state here, today, that, in the context of the Foreign Ministry's exercising of educational and cultural diplomacy, we are open to any initiative aimed at further promoting and enhancing our cultural capital, which promotes our country and also contributes to the peaceful coexistence and cooperation of peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The commitment shown by Cappadocian Greeks to the preservation of Greek and Christian identity was enviable, as strong as that of their forebears who tirelessly guarded the frontier. The Panhellenic Union of Cappadocian Associations is imbued with the same perception and the same values, and I would like to congratulate the Union publicly for this excellent event and declare its opening.

I wish you every success in your proceedings.

Thank you.