Greek party calls for Atatürk’s birth home in Greece to be transformed into genocide museum

A Greek right-wing political party has called for the birth home of modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in Thessaloniki to be transformed into a genocide memorial museum, the Greek City Times reported on Saturday.

The Greek Solution’s call on Thursday arrived a day before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the conversion of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia landmark back into a mosque after a court annulled a 1934 presidential decree that made it a museum.

The move has been met with international criticism, accusing Erdoğan of using the structure, constructed by the Byzantine Empire as a cathedral in the sixth century, as a political tool to appease Islamists.

“No Turkish court can desecrate the over-chronic character of the Hagia Sophia,” the Greek City Times quoted the party as saying. 

“On the contrary, Greece can and must turn Kemal’s house into a museum of memory and honour of the victims of the (Greek) Pontian genocide,” the Greek Solution said. 

Descendants of Ottoman Greeks and Greece mark May 19, 1919, as the end of the centuries-long Pontic Greek presence on the shores of the Black Sea.

People that had lived for 600 years in the region, also called Pontus, were either forced to convert to Islam, massacred between 1914 and 1923 or were banished in 1923 during the Turkish-Greek population exchange.

Between 1914 and 1921, some 353,000 Pontic Greeks were killed in the region, along with 50,000 others who died during the population exchange.