The Turks "have remained uncivilized, they are rude, and they will remain [this way]," said the Primate of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos, regarding Ankara's decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, noting that "what saddens us most are the great powers, especially the Europeans, who see their rigid economic interests and nothing else."
"It simply came to our notice then. We must stand on our own two feet. Let's not wait any longer. There are no allies, no brothers, no supporters, and this must teach us to work and stand on our own two feet, on our own capabilities, to support our homeland, no matter how weak we are. If we are united, we can overcome all difficulties, having God as our helper and supporter," said the Archbishop after Sunday's Divine Liturgy.
He added that "we are saddened [by the decision of the Turkish Government] but Hagia Sophia will not lose its value, for 10 centuries it was at the centre of all Christianity and from the 5th to the 15th century it was at the centre of Orthodoxy and Christianity in general, while Ecumenical and local Synods were held in this area, and Byzantium saw all its glory."
As Archbishop Chrysostom said, Hagia Sophia "went down in history and cannot reduce the value of any power and what Turkey is achieving is its own reduction, because it has not learned to respect history, it has not learned to respect culture, because itself did not produce culture and does not respect culture."
He added that "Turkey has learned to destroy, it has learned to appropriate the cultures of others and sometimes, when it does not benefit it, it destroys them and falsely presents cultures as its own."
"We know Turkey very well and for half a century we have seen the destruction of our own monuments and we have been begging through the United Nations for half a century to allow us to preserve our religious monuments," said the Archbishop.