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Turkey Issues Veiled Threat Towards Greek Christians Over Cyprus

Coupled with the policy of pillage, destruction and desecration of the cultural heritage of Cyprus that the occupation regime has been following since 1974, which has led to the destruction or desecration of more than 500 Greek Orthodox churches and chapels in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the illegal transfer of more than 60,000 ancient artifacts to third countries, the continuous violation of the religious freedom of the Greek Cypriots in the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” and threats to the Greek Cypriots in general, are regrettably unacceptable realities.

The Turkish occupation of Cyprus continues to violate the Third Vienna Agreement of August 1975, which is still the only agreement providing for the treatment of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, calls upon Turkey to fully respect the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Christians who continue to live in the northern occupied part of Cyprus and urges the United States Government to condemn this unlawful occupation and work towards truly safeguarding the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the religious freedom, of the Orthodox Christians who reside in northern Cyprus, and ending the threats to Greek Cypriot Christians outside of the illegal occupation zone.

“Turkey Issues Veiled Threat Towards Greek Christians,” International Christian Concern, August 15, 2019:

08/15/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  The Daily Sabah, a Turkish government run news agency, has run yet another article inciting hatred and opposition towards Christians. The article categorizes Greek Cypriot Christians as a national threat, then gravely warns that “Turkey proved what it is capable of doing against threats toward it in Syria and Iraq… we hope that the Greek Cypriots are analyzing the latest developments correctly.”

Cyprus remains a controversial topic within Turkey. A founding document of modern Turkey renounces the country’s Ottoman-era claims to the island, which is populated with Greek Orthodox Christians (78%) and some Turkish Muslims (18%). However, following Cyprus government upheaval in 1974, Turkey invaded. Since then, the country has remained partitioned between Greek Christians and Turkish Muslims. The situation is the longest peacekeeping mission in United Nations history and has proven intractable.

Turkey has engaged in a strategy which seeks to move mainland citizens into Cyprus. As part of this program, the government engages in a media messaging strategy that encourages the belief that foreign Christians seek to undermine Turkey. The recent article in the Daily Sabah is quick to assert that the Orthodox Church is the main “provoker of enmity toward Cypriot Turks.”

The situation is example of the diversity of persecution on display in Turkey. Christianity is viewed as inherently foreign (although the New Testament church was born in Turkey) and thus hostile to the country’s Islamic values. Turkey has committed a genocide against Greek and other ethnic Christians….

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