Archbishop:Turkey destroys religious heritage in occupied Cyprus

Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II has indicted Turkey for the destruction of holy sites in the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island, calling on the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, Elias, to assist in any way possible and to exert pressure on the matter in the international arena.

The Archbishop, who paid an official visit to the Orthodox Church of Georgia, at the invitation of Patriarch Elias, was speaking at a concelebrating ceremony on Sunday in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi.

He said that more than 500 Orthodox churches and monasteries in the occupied areas are in a miserable condition.

“Some of these churches and monasteries have been destroyed, others have been transformed into mosques, night clubs, army camps even stables. Our holy icons and other religious items have been sold to Europe and America”, he noted.

He said that the Church of Cyprus has been long demanding a permit from the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in order to repair these churches and monasteries, however there has been no response so far.

The Archbishop also referred to the Cyprus problem, noting that Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus in 1974, occupying 37% of the country, adding that it wants to take over the occupied areas and the rest of Cyprus.

Turkey, he pointed out, is implementing “ethnic cleansing” tactics in Cyprus, by driving away all Christian Orthodox from their homeland and bringing Muslim settlers from Anatolia, changing the demographics of the whole of Cyprus.

He spoke of the very good relations between the Church of Cyprus and the Orthodox Church of Georgia, noting that a great number of Georgians today reside and work in Cyprus.

Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, hundreds of valuable artifacts have been stolen from the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island and found their way into the black market overseas. More than 500 churches have been pillaged, destroyed or turned into museum, inns or silos. Many archaeological sites and other places belonging to the country’s 9,000 year old cultural heritage have been abandoned to the elements.

The Church of Cyprus has, at different times, managed to secure the return of stolen religious items, illegally stolen and sold on the black market abroad.

Source: Gazette