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Messages of Friendship from Izmir in the 99th year of the population exchange

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The 99th anniversary of The Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations was commemorated on January 29-30 with the "Izmir International Two Sides Art Days" organized by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality.

The program, which maintains the values, common culture and history of the two sides of the Aegean Sea with interviews, concerts and art events, ended with a concert by Anafondan and Okeanos Orchestra which was accompanied by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Population Exchange Choir at Ahmed Adnan Saygun Art Centre. Zafer Yusuf Guzelkasap, the president of the International Federation of Cretans and the Exchanged, who contributed to the organization, the representatives of the associations and federations of Balkan migrants and art lovers from Izmir attended the night.

Art lovers showed great interest in the concert, which started with the performance of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Exchange Choir and Okeanos Orchestra. The concert turned into a festival with the performance of the Anafondan Band. The band performed their pieces in Turkish and Greek, blending the pain and joy of both sides. The bouzouki performances of guest artists Afroditi Bompora, Fani Kavoura, Fonteini Christina Rentzi and Andreas Sarantidis came together with an unmatched interpretation of the exchange choir. In addition to the songs, the stage was also enlivened by folk dances of the both sides.
Speaking at the opening of the program, Izmir Metropolitan Mayor Tunç Soyer stated, "My greatest hope is that only peace will prevail in this shared geography that we live in, not the sufferings and wars of the past." Soyer said, "We have decided to declare 2022 the 'year of peace' for Izmir. You will see, we will always experience the peace and power of living in peace in Izmir" by recalling the "Peace at home, peace in the world" saying of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who was born in Thessaloniki.
At the closure of the night, Mayor Soyer presented flowers to the guest artists and conductor Evrim Ateşler on behalf of the orchestra. Evrim Ateşler told the story of Greek Weightlifter Valerios Leonidis, who waited near the coffin of national weightlifting champion Naim Suleymanoglu at his death and who was Suleymanoglu's greatest rival in active sportsmanship, and said that "Love, peace and friendship will surely win". 
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