The Committee "Greece 2021" visited Chios, the island of the unique gum mastic and the skilled seamen, a place that, during the Revolution, suffered horror and atrocities by the conqueror when its inhabitants attempted to revolt for their freedom. "In this place, your ancestors paid a heavy, unimaginable for the human mind, death toll. They became the victims of unprecedented cruelty," said Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. "And yet the sacrifice of Chios was not in vain. Faith in the ideals of the Struggle and philhellenism flared through the lamentations for the massacre. Europe was outraged. It was as if the fact touched the innermost feelings and sensitivity of the European citizens of the Age of Revolutions," she added.
Assembly members Professors Nikos Kanellopoulos, Paschalis Kitromilidis, and Despoina Mouzaki also participated in the visit.
The Chios massacre that touched Europe entirely
As the Committee delegation pointed out, the Chios massacre became the lever for the shift of European public opinion in favor of the Greek cause and inspired iconic figures of the romantic movement, such as Eugene Delacroix in painting and Victor Hugo in literature. But it was also the catalyst for new acts of bravery and valor, such as those of Konstantinos Kanaris and Andreas Pipinos, who entered the harbor of Chios and set fire to the Ottoman flagship of Kara Ali with their fireships.
A particularly touching moment during the tour was the Committee delegation's visit to Nea Moni, one of the most important Byzantine monuments of the country; a UNESCO designated "World Heritage Monument". One of the bloodiest chapters of the destruction of Chios was written in this iconic shrine when the Ottomans slaughtered thousands of women and children who had found refuge inside it. Today, the church houses those bones of the slaughtered people of Chios that were preserved.
"The seeds of the past, the seeds that our ancestors planted with their acts of bravery and heroism, have flourished. They created a Greece that nowadays has deep roots in history and endurance. A country that faces the challenges of the present calmly and confidently and invests in creating a legacy for future generations. A country that is entering the third century of its modern life and prepares to reap the fruits of this course while still writing a great history. This is the message the bicentennial of the Revolution will send all over the world," said the Committee President.
Discussions with the island's institutions on the past and future of the area
The Committee delegation met with the Deputy Regional Governor of Chios Pantelis Bougdanos, the Mayor of Chios Stamatis Karmantzis, and the Mayor of Oinousses, Georgios Daniel. They also discussed with representatives of local authorities, academic, productive, and cultural institutions of the region about the island's future and the proposals submitted for the 200th anniversary of the Revolution. These proposals combine the history of the Revolution with familiarization with new technologies, invest in gum mastic products using experiential workshops and documenting its properties, and explore the creation of digital cultural museums in Lesvos, Chios, and Samos.
In his statements, the Deputy Regional Governor reminded Chios' contribution to the Revolution and pointed out that despite all the bloodshed, the island gradually managed to rebuilt and is currently evolving culturally and financially. "Chios is an ambassador of the immortal spirit of Homer and the ideas of free thought, reflection, and fair trade," he said. "The message we want to convey is that the heroic past can be our catalyst for the present, our driving force for the future," stressed the Mayor of Chios. He added: "We intend to fight our personal fight now, a peaceful fight for justice, for democracy, for ambitious projects, for infrastructure, for the environment, sustainability, quality of life and the challenges of the new age."
"The proposal for creating digital cultural museums in the three islands of Northern Aegean opens a window into the future. And it is important to transfer, through such actions, knowledge to the new generations", stressed Nikos Kanellopoulos. For her part, Despoina Mouzaki spoke of proposals that look at the future, but are rooted firmly in the area's history. "Adamantios Korais, even though he was born in Izmir, his father was from Chios, and he considered himself a Chian. Chios is an acropolis that illuminates the intellectual future of Hellenism. And at the same time a cradle of growth that could serve as an example for other islands and the rest of the country, especially concerning the products it produces and the way it promotes them", stressed Paschalis Kitromilidis.
The "white gold of Chios"
The Committee delegation also visited one of the Masticochoria (mastic villages) of Chios, Thymiana, where they had the opportunity to see from up close how the "white gold of Chios" (as the inhabitants call gum mastic) is collected and produced. The President and the Members of the Committee spoke with George Toumbos, the President of the Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association, which "sends" mastic all over the world, to be used not only in the food and beverage sector but also in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as in cosmetics and perfumes. The Committee delegation focused mainly on the exemplary effectiveness of the Association. "On the 200th anniversary of the Revolution, we will not only honor the past. We will highlight the comparative assets of each place. Chios and the Association of Gum Mastic Growers teach us that our strength lies in being united," said the President of the Committee.