President Nicos Anastasiades’ meeting with the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Elpidoforos, was called off because the cleric attended the opening of the ‘Turkish House’ in New York, media reports said on Wednesday.
Anastasiades, who is in New York for the 76th UN General Assembly, had been scheduled to meet with Elpidoforos as part of his contacts while in the US.
According to state broadcaster CyBC, the official reason given for the cancellation of the meeting was Anastasiades’ heavy schedule, but reports said it was actually because the archbishop attended the opening on Monday of the Turkish House (Turkevi Center), by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the presence of Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.
Elpidoforos is seen in a photo as among the people cutting a ribbon for the opening of the building that will house the Turkish permanent mission to the UN and the Turkish Consulate. Tatar was also among them.
The building, located across from the UN headquarters, will also house offices to be used by the Turkish Cypriot side.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also attended the opening ceremony.
The archbishop was heavily criticised for attending though some have defended the move, arguing that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is based in Istanbul and that such diplomatic moves were necessary.
In a tweet on Monday Elpidoforos said he had congratulated Erdogan on the opening of the Turkevi Centre, together with Guterres.
“As always I insist on the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the reopening of the Halki Theological School, and supporting the rights of religious minorities of Turkey,” he added.