Evangelos Venizelos, a former deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, said the Greek government’s criticism of Archbishop of America Elpidophoros over his presence at an official event organized by Turkey and attended by Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar in New York this week was “deeply ahistorical” and “myopic.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the Turkish House, or Turkevi Center, which will house the Turkish representation to the United Nations as well as delegates from the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The event was also attended UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The presence of the Archbishop irked the Greek government. “We were irritated by the actions of the Archbishop. The Greek government expresses its displeasure,” said government spokesperson Υiannis Oikonomou responding to a relevant question during a press conference on Thursday.
“The public political criticism of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the Greek government because it has – for reasons of protection of its ecclesiastical position and religious freedom – the de facto obligation to seek relations of mutual respect with the Turkish authorities, is myopic,” said Venizelos in a post on his Facebook page.
“[It is] as myopic as the Greek government’s refusal to respond to the systematic and fierce political attacks launched by the Russian government at the highest level against the Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarch personally, for the granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church,” he continued.
“Instead of taking easy and popular anti-Turkish shots using the Ecumenical Patriarchate, it would be preferable for the Greek and Cypriot governments to highlight the unresolved problems raised by the statement of the Patriarchate representative at the New York ceremony,” he added.