In a statement on Sunday for the visit of Pope Francis to Greece, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, stressed the common values on which the relations between Greece and the Vatican are based, such as respect for international law, the protection of human rights and the peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions.
At the same time, he emphasized that “we both show special interest in the protection of religious and cultural heritage, as well as religious freedom.” In this context, he underlined that “we raise the issue of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, as well as the closure of the Halki seminary.”
It is noted that the minister warmly welcomed the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church at the airport yesterday and had a short conversation with him. This is their second meeting after the hearing of Nikos Dendias in October 2019 at the Vatican. As part of strengthening ties, Nikos Dendias recently visited the Vatican, where he met Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
“After the emblematic visit to Cyprus, the visit of the Primate of the Catholic Church and Head of State of the Vatican, Pope Francis, to Greece comes at a symbolic juncture. Greece celebrates the 200 years of independence and at the same time more than 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries,” noted Nikos Dendias.
In addition, he emphasized that “there are many common challenges that concern us.” In particular, he stressed that at the top of the agenda is the intention “to work together further to protect the Christian populations in the Middle East, who are unfortunately under daily threat, as well as for their peaceful coexistence with the majority Muslim population.”
“We have agreed to coordinate our efforts with some Western Balkan countries to promote security, stability and tackling extremist Islamist ideologies, as well as nationalism, which have re-emerged in our neighborhood,” he said.