HALC, PSEKA express "dismay" over the presence of archbishop, UN chief at Turkish House opening in NY

The head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas prays at the opening ceremony of the Turkish House, as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan looks on, in New York, on Monday. [Turkish Presidential Press Office/Reuters]

The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and the International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) issued a statement on Wednesday expressing their “disappointment” with the response from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to the inauguration by Turkish President Recep Tayyip of the Turkevi Center, or Turkish House, in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

HALC and PSEKA said they were “particularly dismayed” by the fact that the inauguration of the centre, which will house the Turkish representation to the United Nations as well as delegates from the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, was attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.

“We understand the need and special ability of both to hold dialogue with Turkish authorities,” they said. 

“Dialogue is one thing; participating in disingenuous charm offensives and publicity stunts is an entirely different matter,” they added.

“Both the Secretary-General and His Eminence had prior knowledge that Ersin Tatar was going to participate at the event as ‘President’ of the illegal ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.’ They nonetheless chose to appear with him. This appearance was particularly painful as it occurred the same week Tatar insisted on a two-state ‘solution’ to Cyprus – a two-state ‘solution’ that would, of course, continue to violate UN resolutions and effectively end the prospect of the reunification of Cyprus,” the organizations noted.

“We call on Secretary-General Guterres and Archbishop Elpidophoros to make their commitment to international law and human rights clear by restating their unequivocal commitment to UN Security Council Resolutions on Cyprus and by refraining from participating in further whitewashing efforts by the Erdogan regime,” they added.