Turks have always been and will always be uncivilized and rude, Archbishop Chrysostomos said on Sunday, in a damning statement over the decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
The powers that be and Europeans in particular, see only their economic interests and nothing else, he added.
“This should teach us a lot. We must stand on our own feet. We can’t wait anymore. There are no allies, no siblings, no supporters and this should teach us to work and stand on our own feet, on our own strengths and support our country, no matter how weak we are.
“If we are united, we can overcome all difficulties with God as our helper and supporter,” the Archbishop said after Sunday mass.
Though Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque is saddening, “Hagia Sophia will not lose its value which for 10 centuries was in the epicentre of all of Christianity and from the fifth until the fifteenth century was in the epicentre of Orthodoxy and Christianity.”
Ecumenical synods and councils have taken place there and Hagia Sophia “has seen the glory of the Byzantium”.
The Archbishop said that Hagia Sophia is a part of history and no power can reduce its value.
“The only thing Turkey has achieved is to reduce its own value because it never learned to respect history, it never learned to respect culture because it never created culture and it does not respect culture.”
“Turkey has learned to destroy, it has learned to appropriate the cultures of others and then when it no longer benefits from it, destroys them and falsely presents cultures as its own.”
Cyprus has experienced Turkey’s destruction personally, the Archbishop added, with our own religious sites desecrated. Even prior to the occupation, churches were converted into mosques, he said, when the entire island was under their rule.
“We have been begging, through the UN for half a century, to be allowed to preserve our religious monuments and they do not let us, though in government controlled areas, they preserve their monuments.”
Turkey failed to respect that after the invasion, churches that could have offered services for refugees were instead kept as ancient monuments.
Turks “remained uncivilized and rude. This is how they are and this is how they will remain.”