Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros of America made a public apology on Thursday afternoon, saying he “sincerely regretted” the pain he inadvertently caused after attending a Turkish event in New York City.
The archbishop had caused an international stir amongst governments in Greece and Cyprus, as well as amongst his own faithful after appearing at a function organized and attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The event, which was boycotted by many national delegations as well as most mainstream American Jewish leaders, included Ersin Tatar — the illegitimate leader of the breakaway Turkish state in northern Cyprus which only Turkey recognizes.
The text of the archbishop’s full statement via Facebook (translated from Greek) follows below:
As a Greek from Istanbul, my family and I have experienced the terrible consequences of being uprooted from our ancestral homes, like many of my compatriots have, but also like the Imbrians and Tenedians, due to another escalation of the Cyprus issue in the 1970s. I grew up with this pain, which is why I understand the pain of our Cypriot brothers, as well as their feelings and reactions. I consider them expressions of pain of people who lost everything: belongings, homelands, dreams, family, relatives.
Therefore, I want to declare to everyone that my presence at Monday’s event could never be a recognition of a disaster, a refugee, an occupation. My presence has always had the same constant orientation: honest and courageous dialogue, for a future with peace and protection of religious freedom. We are all united in defending our national interests, each in their own way and role. But united, committed to the same goal.
I sincerely regret the pain I inadvertently caused to my Cypriot and Greek-American brothers, especially to my beloved flock. I pray for a just and lasting solution to be found in the martyrdom of Cyprus, as the Cypriot people expect it to be, based on international law and the protection of human rights, in accordance with UN resolutions, and I work for this.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has stood for a century with Hellenism everywhere, defending its expectations. Our unity is my ministry and my duty.
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