LAST UPDATE: 19:53
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America held a meeting with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
In his post on social media, Archbishop Elpidophoros thanked the US State Secretary “for his ready ear to listen to concerns around security for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, peace in the Mediterranean, and the seizure of Hagia Sophia. The US must uphold rule of law, rights of minorities in Turkey, and peace for Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.”
According to information that has become available earlier, they discussed, among other things, issues related to the Greek-American community for the protection of Christian minorities in Turkey and the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Finally, the Archbishop raised the issue of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque to the highest political level.
Grateful to @SecPompeo for his ready ear to listen to concerns around security for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, peace in the Mediterranean, and the seizure of Hagia Sophia. The US must uphold rule of law, rights of minorities in Turkey, and peace for Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. pic.twitter.com/7vfErEUpaa
— Elpidophoros (@Elpidophoros) September 24, 2020
Archbishop Elpidophoros expressed the concern of the Greek-American community about the aggressive and military attitude of Turkey to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting at the State Department.
The Archbishop stressed that Ankara’s actions compromise peace and stability in the region.
“Our concerns this time naturally focused on Turkey’s aggressive and military attitude in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which jeopardizes the peaceful coexistence of peoples and states, which in the recent past paid a heavy toll to ensure and reach the current status quo and to consolidate the balance and borders in the region,” he stressed.
Archbishop Elpidophoros estimated that the US pressure for the withdrawal of the Turkish vessel from the Greek continent self was effective, saying that the US State Secretary expressed his satisfaction for this development. At this point, Archbishop ELpidophoros called on Mike Pompeo to keep the US interest in continuing the de-escalation, which is a fundamental condition for building a successful dialogue.
“I asked that the US interest in this point must continue so that the preliminary talks to be launched between Greece and Turkey have a future. If the military and aggressive rhetoric of Turkey continues, the two sides will certainly not be able to continue the talks and reach the level of a formal dialogue on the problems that concern the two countries,” the Archbishop noted.
On his part, Mike Pompeo assured the Archbishop that the presence of the USA will remain strong in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the United States intended to move in that direction. Regarding the attitude of the US agent, the Archbishop commented that “as a sign of this US interest [Mike Pompeo] gave me the example of his forthcoming visit to Greece, which I think is an indication of which direction US is moving in these matters.”
Commenting on the issue of Hagia Sophia, the Archbishop said that this was a move that opens a Pandora’s box and leads to hazardous situations, which compromise the future and security of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In this light, the issue of the reopening of the Halki Theological School was also discussed. As he said, Mike Pompeo assured him that the United States retain the interest in this issue and would continue its efforts in order to have a positive outcome.
Archbishop Elpidophoros offered the following statement about the meeting:
“I would like to express once again my thanks to Secretary of State Pompeo, for our meeting today. I had the opportunity to articulate the deep distress of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and our own pain and that of the Greek-American community, over the conversion of Hagia Sophia to mosque.
I also had occasion to express the ever-increasing apprehension and deepest concern of the Greek-American community over an ever-increasing aggressive stance of Turkey against Greece and Cyprus. I sought from the Secretary of State the support of the American Government for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek community in Turkey and for all religious minorities in Turkey.
It is our earnest desire that the US government continue its work to ensure respect for international law, dialogue without threats from Turkey, and for peaceful relations between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, and the entire Eastern Mediterranean region.”