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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Turkey has to allow Christians to repair their destroyed churches

(Cyprus Weekly) - Church opens Brussels office

If Turkey wishes to have a European future, it has to allow Orthodox Christians to repair their destroyed churches and give them the opportunity to visit them whenever they wish, Archbishop Chrystostomos said in Brussels this week.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Office of the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the EU, in the heart of the Belgian capital, Chrysostomos said the Church has the obligation to inform its EU partners about the continuous destruction, looting and desecration of the Greek Orthodox religious sites by the Turkish army in the Turkish-held north.

“Our churches have been looted and destroyed and despite everything, our efforts to be allowed to repair them at our own expenses have been fruitless. On the contrary, their own holy sites in the government controlled areas have been maintained by our government. And they are allowed to use them whenever they wish,” Chrysostomos said.

The Archbishop stressed that 50,000 icons, frescoes, religious mosaics and other religious relics have been stolen from the places of worship in the occupied areas, since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Some have been located in European and other auction houses and coordinated efforts by the church and the government have led to the repatriation of some of them after paying huge amounts of money.

Chrysostomos warned that the Church of Cyprus will go to the European Court of Human Rights and claim all legal remedies.

The office is headed by Bishop of Neapolis Porfyrios who also represents the Church in the EU.

Present at the inauguration ceremony were European officials including EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, MEPs, ambassadors from various countries, various representatives of Orthodox Churches and Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou.

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