Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos has slammed Turkey over the country’s decision to allow Hagia Sophia to revert from museum back to mosque status, accusing Turks of having no respect for the civilized world.
In a statement issued on Sunday by the Church of Cyprus, Chrysostomos expressed sorrow for Hagia Sophia reverting back to mosque status, saying Byzantine glory would not be diminished by the decision.
The comments came two days after the Turkish Council of State ruled that a decision by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1934 to turn the mosque into a museum had been unlawful.
Chrysostomos slammed the decision saying Turkey has not learned how to respect history, saying Hagia Sophia was at the epicenter of Christianity from the fifth through the tenth century.
The petition, which was a campaign promise by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, argued that the historic structure originally belonged to a foundation established by Sultan Mehmed II, the Ottoman leader who conquered Constantinople in 1453 and renamed the city to Istanbul.
'They remained Turks, uncivilized, boorish,' Chrysostomos said, adding that 'we know Turkey very well'
But Chrysostomos pointed out that Ecumenical Councils and local Synods had been held on-site, which he described as a testament to Byzantine glory.
“That’s how it went down in history. No power could ever take that away from Hagia Sophia,” the archbishop said.
The leader of the Church of Cyprus also said Turkey was the loser in the whole affair, saying that country never learned how to respect history or culture.
Chrysostomos went on to say that Turkey “never produced culture and so it doesn’t respect culture. It knows how to destroy. It knows how to grab civilizations from others and at times, when they don’t stand to gain anything, they destroy them.”
“They remained Turks, uncivilized, boorish,” Chrysostomos said, adding that Turkey falsely presents cultures as its own and adding that “we know this about Turkey very well.”
The archbishop also went on to argue that Muslim monuments in the south of the divided island were being looked after, adding that the Turks did not show the same respect for Christian churches in the north.
Chrysostomos also said he was dismayed over what he described as lack of support from the Great Powers and Europeans, accusing them of “caring only about their financial interests and nothing else.”
“There's a lot to learn from this. We have to stand on our feet, rely on our own strength, and not wait any longer. There are no allies, no brothers, no backers,” the archbishop said, adding that “if we are united we can overcome these challenges with God on our side.”