Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met in New York City Saturday.
The meeting, which lasted about 20 minutes, was at the house of Cyprus’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Andreas Hadjichrysanthou.
The meeting followed a spat after Elpidophoros attended the opening of Turkish House, which will house the Turkish representation to the UN as well as delegates from the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The event was also attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the leader of the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, which sustains it and maintains a numerous occupying force on its soil.
Although Elpidophoros attended at the behest of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and Erdogan’s attempt to create an aura of legitimacy for Turkey’s client state, not a UN member, was transparent, Elpidophoros’ attendance was criticized by Anastasiades, the Greek government and some of his own flock as insensitive.
“We were irritated by the actions of the archbishop. The Greek government expresses its displeasure,” government spokesman Υiannis Oikonomou said during a press conference Thursday.
Evangelos Venizelos, a former deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, in a Facebook post said the government’s criticism of Elpidophoros was “profoundly ahistorical” and “myopic.”
The official reaction postponed and nearly derailed Elpidophoros’ separate meetings with Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Elpidophoros issued an apologetic statement.
“As a Greek of Constantinople, me and my family have also experienced the devastating consequences of uprooting,” the Archbishop said in a statement in Greek.
“I thus want to state to everyone that my presence at Monday’s event would under no circumstances amount to a recognition of a disaster, of displacement or of occupation,” he said.
“What is important is the unity of Hellenism,” Anastasiades told media following the meeting. Therefore, after His Eminence’s explanation, the apology, if you wish, the matter is over,” Anastasiades added.
I was pleased to meet with the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic @kmitsotakis and the President of the Republic of Cyprus @anastasiadescy to reaffirm our deep commitments to the unity of the Church and Hellenism, in Greece, Cyprus and our communities around the world,” Elpidophoros tweeted Saturday.