The Pomacs are a small ethnical entity (member of which is the person speaking) that lives in northern- eastern Greece, in the part of Thrace that has remained to my country. The original area where we once lived is the mountain chain of Rhodopi, along the Greek – Bulgarian borders. During the last decades a large part of the population – the total of which is estimated around 40.000 people – immigrated either towards the lowlands, mostly in urban areas, or abroad, seeking for employment opportunities and better conditions of living. Nowadays, the pomac population lies concrete primarily in the mountainous areas of the municipality of Xanthi, and in a lesser extent in the mountainous areas of the neighboring municipalities of Rhodopi and Evros. Of course there are numerous pomac populations both in Bulgaria and in Turkey, as well as immigrants for financial reasons in countries such as Germany or Holland. However we will confine our reference to the Greek territory.

As far as the descent of the Pomac people is concerned there are various theories. I need to point out that no theory can be considered scientifically solid, since on the one hand all the necessary proof for their sufficient supporting is missing, and on the other hand the current conjectures basically reflect the political interests of their initiators.

The pomac language is part of a broader group of slabic languages spoken in the southern Balkan peninsula and a number both of Turkish and Greek words are included in it. Moreover it is typical that major differences exist among the various local dialects quite often the dialect spoken is differentiated from the one village to the other. An obvious explanation to the language variety is the morphology of the land that does not enable communication and the traditional type of local societies. This variety has always been a significant hindrance to all attempts of writing down and coding the pomac language. And at this point, the main reasons that our language has remained unwritten should be mentioned.

We regard that two are the basic reasons for this delay that has caused a considerable cost not only to the pomaki population overall but to our cultural consciousness as well:

The reasons are both social, that suggest the psychology and self-image of the Pomacs and political which can be initially traced outside the pomac community. I should begin with the first ones, since I consider that they enabled the descent of the second: A Pomac, being a mountaineer and a member of a traditional community, does not keep up with the latest evolution of the broader society and hence had been for many years equivalent to social retardation and financial discomfort. For many years our ethnic name   had been used in a mocking way and often in a sense of a swear word by the majority of the Christian community and by the Turkish-speaking Muslim community as well. The people descending the mountains and receiving this rejection have learnt to feel shame for their identity and furthermore for their language. The language itself, totally different from the languages spoken in public or officially, verified the fact that they were indeed part of a certain population socially retarded, financially subdue and politically not-existing. On one hand the consensus with the Christian community was for a number of reasons impossible. Similar was the case with the Turkish-speaking population, who was the dominant figure in the Muslim community. On the other hand there was a clear resemblance of the Pomac language with the Bulgarian and all other Slavic languages, that had been considered as suspicious for a number of years: Northern Greece had been constantly facing a major problem with the remaining part of the Bulgarian–speaking part of the population (an aftermath of which is the so-called “Macedonian” issue). Right after the Yalta agreement and with the closure of the Greek civil war, anything that had slavic  connotations was a potential threat. This was the case with the Greek-Pomacs as well, since many of them had relatives in the other side of the Greek – Bulgarian borders that were also the borders of two opposing consociations for defence, the N.A.T.O. and the Warsow Pact.

More powerful reasons were added to the reasons mentioned above, the political ones. Two countries actually initiated them, Greece and Turkey, that is on the one side there was the dominant power and on the other side the self-appointed patron of the Muslims in the Greek area of Thrace. The Greek policy had primarily the considerations mentioned right above: They had the fear of the development of friendly attitudes and positions towards Bulgaria in the very core of the Pomac society. This fear was anticipated, not only concerning the state’s own integrity but also because of the importance that it might have in relation to the balance, in a broader sense, and partnerships in the area. This can be easily understood since even the most ignorant as far as geo-politics is concerned, can be persuaded that the Bulgarian designs (covetousness) towards an area which provides access to the Aegean sea wouldn’t be casual (The above assumption was proven right in 1941, when the Bulgarian military forces as well as immigrants occupied Greece together with the Nazi troops). So it made perfect sense to attempt to eliminate the idiom of the mountaineers that resembled the language spoken by the «enemy». However it was not only the fear of the Bulgarian penetration. The Turkish pressure towards the same direction was evident.  Turkey, aiming to the homogeneity of the Muslim minority in Thrace, and its transformation from a religious to an ethnic, Turkish minority, achieved enlistment through bilateral agreements and educational protocols (in 1951 and 1968) to provide the minority overall with education only in the Turkish language, that is, apart from the Greek official language. As a result, a number of Turkish teachers were summoned in order to teach to all Muslims born in the inland Turkish and only, taking into account the principle of equalization that was valid for the Greek minority in Constantinople. The lingual emasculation of our society was due to the absence of a recorded and coded form of the Pomac language. What was there left to be taught? Moreover, the language of the Muslim Gypsies, the Romani language hasn’t been taken into account, consequently it ended up the same way: lay forgotten, until recently. All Muslims in the area were forced to adopt the Turkish language, no matter what we wanted, who we were and what the language spoken by our ancestors was.

Since 1974, and even more since 1981, the liberalization of the political scene in Greece as well as the breaking in the Greek-Turkish relations enabled a gradual change towards that direction. Speaking of which, when in 1990, with the fall of the soviet block and the uprising of ethnic eagerness, such procedures accelerated and the absolute egalitarianism was established in the Greek Thrace (canceling all previous administrative deteriorations that had existed for years as retaliation for similar measures that were valid for the Greeks in Constantinople, Imvros and Tenedos) there were quite a lot of people who started searching for their cultural or national identity. We were some of those people, a group of young Pomacs, who were not aware of what had happened on their account over the previous years and yet they claimed their integrity and particularity and wouldn’t accept its loss as an accomplished fact, for any reason. We were unable to comprehend a series of simple attitudes that the elderly had compromised with. Why were we to speak a different language at home and be taught other languages at school? And considering that the Greek language was necessary or obligatory as the official language of the state and the Arabic language was required for the reading of the Koran, then why was the Turkish language necessary as well? Why wasn’t there a pomac word, a pomac song, any kind of reference to our culture whatsoever in the media? Why was it the case that in the State Broadcasting Corporation there were broadcasts in the Turkish language, however not in the pomac language? Why were there in the Greek courtrooms translators of the Turkish language for the Turkish –speaking people who did not know Greek, whereas there was no translator for the Pomac language? Why were there numerous editions in all languages, yet our language remained unwritten?

The internal procedures brought amazing results. The first step was taken in 1997, when the Centre for Pomac Research was established in Komotini, thus bringing the issue to its political basis: we were determined to claim our identity in all levels, starting from our language. We have made quite important achievements and I believe that we led the way so that other groups, not related to us, can achieve a lot more: We have published the first pomac newspaper, “Zagalisa” (meaning “love”), recording our language using the Greek alphabet, so that it would be read by the Pomacs in Greece. We have received tremendous reactions, as certain people closely related to Turkey feared that the “unified minority”, which they had been building up for years, would collapse. Regarding the Greek side, there have been people at governmental positions who regarded our initiative as a risk of causing tension and firing uncontrolled situations. We started broadcasting on the radio in private radio-stations playing pomac songs, songs that we ourselves have written down first, then recorded them in cassettes and later on they were recorded on cds with the help of friends. It was a unique moment for us, as the songs of our grandparents, their kavali and their flute, were being listened to in public! (At this point it should be pointed out that even though we approached the national broadcast twice and volunteered to play pomac songs we didn’t even receive an answer). We also dared a move of great importance, as the first dictionaries of the pomac language had already been published since two years in Xanthi: We published in Komotini the first reading book in the pomac language, a reading book for the children in the first grade of primary school. This was given as an answer to the excuses of the Greek State claiming that “no educational material exists” so that our language may be taught in schools, as a result our language cannot be taught. With that move of ours we proved that it is merely a matter of political will, since our language remains alive, our tradition is rich, and if the official state is willing to create appropriate educational material, the example of the private initiative should be followed. Nowadays there are many editions in the pomac language – it appears that an enriched form of the Latin alphabet has dominated in its written expression. Moreover, many songs have been recorded, many tales, proverbs as well as other forms of expression of our traditional culture have been published. And they can all be exploited through a system of public education, as long as they are taken into consideration. As a last sample of the professional work being done through the private initiative in the field of the pomac language are the books – and the digital cd – containing lessons for Greek-speaking adults. It is a very recent attempt of the Cultural Development Centre of Thrace (PAKETHRA), which is a non-governmental association located in Xanthi and focusing on culture in general. They are booklets, which were created out of the need of Greek teachers, working in the Pomac villages and expressing interest in getting to know the language of the local population. However, for the very population there has been no state-consideration. On the contrary, every little step towards that direction ends up in failure. Allow me to present you with such an example that will clear out the actual situation that we experience regarding the above. During a union project which is financially supported partly by the European Union and is called “Education of the Muslim youngsters” responsible of which is professor Fragoudaki, some new educational material was created especially for the children of the Muslim minority in Thrace. Those new books, and at this point I am referring in particular to the books teaching the Greek language, have already been introduced to the educational procedure of the minority and are actually being taught. Among the numerous scientists who participated in the formation of the final product, there were some who showed special sensitivity towards the issues of the minority and decided to include in the teaching material two words in the Pomac language used as names, the words “mayka”(that means  “mother”) and “lesitsa”(which means “fox”). Certainly the educational aim of the designers of the booklet is quite obvious, since it would have been the first time that one out of three Muslim children would actually recognize something coming from his mother tongue, the language spoken at their village. However, it was quite unfortunate that even this slight attempt proved to be very risky in reference to the situation in the area. Even though those books had been approved by the Greek Ministry of Education, they had been printed and were about to be distributed to the pupils, the intervention of the guardians of the “unified, Turkish identitycanceled them. The scientist who was responsible for the project was forced to withdraw the books and re-print them, but this time avoiding those solemn two words (Lesitsa was replaced with the similar sounding Greek name Lenitsa)! So it is obvious that we are still far from the day that we will be able to hear our language in our schools or at least spoken fearlessly in public.

It should be added that the practice of withdrawing printed material because of a mere reference to the Pomacs is not unfamiliar. In the autumn of 1998 the head of the prefecture of Rhodopi decided to withdraw a brand new tourist guide entitled “Rhodopi, the Land of Legends” and re-printed it excluding only the reference to the Pomac villages of the area. The same deed was repeated last January, concerning once more the tourist guide entitled “Rhodopi prefecture” published by the Prefecture of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Even our very name is substance to exclusion from all official documents. So how can we possibly hope for the salvation of our language in such a political environment? And how are we to feel when we see everything that belongs to our cultural inheritance (traditional costumes, popular art objects, festivals…) either to be enlisted to the Turkish tradition or being so-called cultural inheritance of the “mountainous Rhodopi”?

Concluding, I will make a general estimation to the current situation of the pomak language. It is a positive fact that all the steps mentioned have been made before the total extinction of a living-language. However the limits of the private initiative do not go any further. No individual can do much more than what has been done until now. It is the Greek state that has to take over. It has to legalize the use of the pomac language in the media or other areas that the Turkish language is dominant. Unless a Pomak feels proud of his mother tongue that has been for so many years neglected and looked upon he is deprived of a basic right he has and will constantly feel as the poor relative of either the Greeks or the Turks. In the frame of the European Union, where language variety is both aimed at and practiced, I strongly believe –and certainly hope- that we will go further. So that one day we may witness the language of our ancestors being taught in our schools, to our children, when the fox will be called “lesitsa” and the mother “mayka”.


Hamdi Omer,                                                                    

Komotini, Greece                

(conference in Holland, 25-11-2004)                      




9 com

Multiculturalism is the last ideological trend that has been imported in Greece from the West. In my spiritually colonialised and politically occupied country, there is a (bad) tradition of about two centuries. It was the 90s when this known type of intellectual – importer started propagandizing the supposed enrichment of our democracy with multiculturalism. The contradiction that has been developed about the ideological assumptions and the consequences alike, especially in Greek case, has an extra aspect and a global interest. Results in Greece will not be only about the cohesion or the integrity of my country, but it will also refer to the contemporary man’s meaning of life. The meaning that has been formed under the influence of eternal Greek spirit, core of man’s heritage.

Which is the reality in Greece today? Beyond 95% resident population is of Greek origin, Greek-speaking and they belong to Orthodox Church. It is the outcome of mass population transfers between balkan neighbours after wars, under violent or not circumstances. During an unavoidable historical process, Hellenism residing in Odessa, Alexandria, Constantinople or Vienna ceased to exist. The poor return was the high national purity of the metropolitan state.

This absolutely clear situation begun to change after 1989. Hundreds of thousands immigrants entered the country, that is on the borderline from the East of poverty to the West of welfare, a near capitalist country for them. Albanians, Polish, Russians, Pakistanis, Bulgarians, Chinese, Nigerians, Kurds and other distressed people with their unintended presence created the political environment for the application of multicultural ideas in practice. Propaganda machine started working: «We are now a country with different cultures, languages, religions, traditions… How can we speak about Greek state, about prevailing religion, about Greek-orthodox values in public education? Shouldn’t we care about others’ right in difference and diversity, shouldn’t we procure for the protection of their cultural distinctiveness?»

This touching, humanistic approach of the immigrants by the multi-culti intellectuals, which reaches even to distort the obvious reality – about increase of unemployment and criminality – in order to fight racial stereotypes and potential phenomena of xenophobia, is easily proved hypocritical. Firstly, it is connected with economic interests: the reduction of the production cost, the wage freeze, the illegal labour, the dissolution of the syndicates, all these created a big wealth for some members of upper classes in Greece. Secondly, the examples they use usually come from countries either formed by immigrants – that is to say non nation states – or ex colonial empires who receive today waves of immigrants from their previous colonies, although even there the contradiction remains strong. Which can be the relation of new, Greek state with Canada, Australia, Holland or Britain? Additionally, what kind of capabilities – geopolitical, economical, ideological – does this state have, so that it can be a melting pot or a place of coexistence for different ethnic or cultural communities?  And last but not least it is the attitude of the very same people against the political refugees in Greece. Their outrageous indifference for politically active foreigners who came to our country as implorers is absolutely typical. They don’t create economy, they don’t intend to stay for ever, you cannot take advantage of them. On the contrary, they create bilateral problems, they disturb the placidity of our consumers and they do not accept their ethnic cleansing: Internationalists or not, they remain Kurds, Turks or Palestinians to the disappointment of the cosmopolitans.

Beyond these, globally known, elements, criticism in Greece has one more interesting dimension, which is referred to the factor «language». The etymological transparency of Greek language, which we have the honour to speak, offers an additional protection against obsessions, propaganda and myths. It brings out the oxymoron which is presented to us as the future of contemporary democracy. It has to be either multiculturalism or society. In western world the word «society», coming from the latin «societas», calls up financial interests and needs, that is to say a particular hierarchy of priorities in organizing human life. But in Greek language the word «κοινωνία» calls up the community (κοινότητα), the Agora, the Ecclesia, the political life. Our language here – as in so many other places as well – keeps inside it another perception of life, another civilization. This civilization was rescued during the medieval years in social-centric – Sir Steven Runciman said «socialistic» – Byzantium, even during Ottoman times through Greek communities. These are the major problems that professor Hristos Yannaras has comprehensively dealed with in his unique lifework. So, when people of different cultural origin meet each other in the same place, they can form society, but they cannot form «κοινωνία». Common cultural characteristics are required not as a procrustean demand but in the spirit of our traditional, democratic «about». This dubiology and multiplicity, against all purities and all dogmatisms, which is permitted by Greek «λόγος», has been brought out by another heretic Greek intellectual, professor Kostas Zuraris.

Another paradigm for the shield of Greek language is the loathsome nationalism. Although in latin linguistic heritage it is obviously connected with the fact of birth (nation), in greek language the homologous word is «εθνικισμός», coming from homeric word «έθνος», that is to say «έθος ήθος». What we have here is the absolute priority of the cultural criterion, the most essential identity of human. It is noteworthy that the stronger cultural element, religion, was forming human communities not only in Byzantium and in Ottoman Empire – with the system of millet – but even in free Greek state. Faith in Christ was the greek identity in Revolution times and the same religious criteria determined the mutual population transfer one century afterwards. All these above are not trying to describe something out of the known, miserable conditions of human societies. I just want to note another way of reading reality, another culture, unfortunately darkened and forgotten by the very natural descendants of its creators.

            In this frame of general decline the multicultiralists do not hesitate to undermine old or ancient greek values and individuals. They don’t want us just to accept the «Other» besides us, but – with the help of relativism – to lose every confidence from our past: Heroes of Greek Revolution, historical facts, intellectuals of modern Greece (like Seferis, Elytis, Kavafis) are discredited. There must be left no ground under our feet. Ancient Athens means slavery, Great Alexander means imperialism, Konstantinople means ignorantism. Works like Black Athena of Martin Bernal defame the origins of ancient world from the afrocentric point of view or with politically correct fictions. In Greek universities, institutes, conferences, the only you can hear is about «constructing identities», «ethnic stereotypes», etc. Every difference, every diversity, everything that could disorganize a collective sense is used against «nationalism» – «chauvinism» – «racism». Exactly as every democrat in Cold War times was suspicious for being communist, today every patriot is ranked among Far-rightous and neonazis. Whoever is not with us, is against us, due to well known western approaches.

            We believe that greek vision of life, as it has been expressed in Minoan or Theran frescos, in Parthenon or in Agia Sofia, in democratic institutions and spiritual production of thousands of years, is not a matter of 10.000.000 Greek-speaking people. It is what really added another sapiens in contemporary situation of humanity. Even if Puskin, Hoelderlin, Byron and Hugo were too idealists as they approached it, this does not mean that it can be equated with nomadic or neolithic civilizations. After all it is an enormous hypocrisy, since what embellishes human life today all over the world is democracy, music, theatre, architecture, athletics, philosophy, poetry. Greece.

  (Kostas Karaiskos, May 2004, Kiev, Ukrania)



Let us … give thanks for our common Hellenic paideia, through which we became civilized and did not remain the wild beast-like creatures we once were. We younger peoples only ceased to be barbarous and wild when we came into contact with Hellenic civilization. It is this defining incident in the history of European man that unites us all.

Dr. Frederico Sagredo, Professor of Classics, President of the Basque Hellenic Society of Spain








Τουρκικά Νέα
Ο τουρκόφωνος τύπος στη Θράκη και στον Κόσμο

Παρατηρητήριο Μέτε
Τα νέα του ψευδομουφτή Ξάνθης Αχμέτ Μέτε

Ένα Καράβι Για Τη Γάζα |
Ενα Καράβι Για Τη Γάζα



Μόνιμες στήλες




free counters