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03/14/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has expressed concern over recent statements made by Turkey’s President Erdogan and their potential impact on the Greek Orthodox community living within Turkey.

Syrian refugees have again found themselves the victims of Turkish politics, which has in turn escalated tensions between Greece and Turkey. President Erdogan made comments on Wednesday which described Greeks as barbarians and said there is no difference between them and Nazis. While all of this is in relation to the refugee crisis, the impact on Turkish-Greek citizens cannot be ignored. It is a type of politicized hate speech that further stigmatizes minority communities in Turkey.

The Greek Orthodox Church has already suffered significant persecution throughout Turkish history. They were the victims of a Turkish genocide in the early 1900s which eliminated most Greek Christians from the country. Turkey refuses to acknowledge this genocide, and does not grant a legal identity to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Their theological seminary was closed in 1971 and is held hostage by the Turkish government for international political maneuvering. Additionally, thousands of Greek Orthodox properties have been seized by the government, who also has continued interference in the leadership structure of the church. It is also worth noting that recently Turkey has “asked” the Greek Orthodox to sign a statement supporting the government’s military decisions in Syria, decisions which directly relate to the current refugee crisis.

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