A tour by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero in New York, due to take place on Friday, has been canceled.
The prime minister, who is in New York to attend the 76th UN General Assembly, was to be guided through the structure by Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Elpidophoros.
However, it has emerged that the prime minister will meet with the management of the Wall Street Journal instead.
The change in the prime minister’s itinerary comes after the government criticized Elpidophoros over his presence at an official event organized by Turkey and attended by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, in New York.
“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.
At the event, 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 by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Evangelos Venizelos, a former deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, said the government’s criticism of Elpidophoros was “deeply ahistorical” and “myopic.”
Crushed by the collapsing south tower, the original Saint Nicholas has been replaced by a glass-domed shrine designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Elpidophoros is due to unveil the building on November 2 in a ceremony that will be attended by Patriarch Vartholomaios – conditions allowing – while the church is slated to resume services as usual next year.