A total of 450 children or grandchildren of Turks who were forced to leave their homeland in Greece as part of the compulsory population exchange with Turkey in 1923 will visit their homeland for the first time in 90 years thanks to a project by the Tuzla Municipality.
A ship carrying these passengers set sail from Karakoy in Istanbul on Saturday for the four-day visit to mark the 90th anniversary of the compulsory population exchange.
Ninety years have passed since 1.25 million Christians had to leave Turkey for Greece while 500,000 Muslims had to leave Greece for Turkey as part of the 1923 Turkish-Greek population exchange, which is known as one of the greatest population transfers of the 20th century. These people were forced to leave their homeland, houses and their lives behind. Most of the displaced are now dead while the rest are elderly. However, those left still remember the hardships they had to endure at that time.
Latif Karadag, 100, who was among the displaced Turks and was 10 years old when the population exchange took place, will be among the passengers.
During their visit to Greece, the group will visit the places where the displaced lived before they were forced to leave such as Salonika, Kavala, Thessaloniki and Khalkis.
While in Thessaloniki, the group will visit the house where founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was born, the tower of Thessaloniki, Byzantine walls, some museums and Turkish-Ottoman works of art.
During the voyage, there will be conferences, movies, concerts and plays about the population exchange.
Tuzla Mayor Sadi Yazici said he expects the journey to Greece to be an exciting one, adding that they aim to eliminate bad memories of the population exchange with this visit.
Yazici also said the goal is to strengthen bonds of friendship, solidarity between Turkish and Greek people and contribute to societal peace.
A group of businessmen, politicians, academics and journalists will also join this trip to Greece including deputy EU Minister Alaattin Buyukkaya and his wife, Talha Ugurluel, who is an historian.
Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu and Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas will see off the ship on Saturday.
CihanLast Mod: 26 Ekim 2013, 14:47