Cyprus Church to take Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights
Nicosia, Jan 10 – The Cyprus Church intends to take Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights for preventing the restoration of looted Orthodox churches in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus and for its continuing refusal to allow access to the Christian Orthodox pilgrims for worship.
The Primate of the Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos B’, has said that he will raise the issue to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, during his visit to Cyprus next week and then continue the efforts through the Church of Cyprus office, which will open soon in Brussels.
The Church will subsequently set up a team of legal experts to help prepare its case before the Court.
The Archbishop noted that “there are churches in the occupied areas, which are half destroyed, some have collapsed, others were demolished and most recently a church in the Karpass peninsula was razed to the ground”.
He expressed fears that “if restoration is not allowed to start soon the churches will begin to collapse one after the other.”
“We have reached a very dangerous point, we are not asking for anything more than the restoration of our human rights and we will fight for them”, the Archbishop said, adding that the occupation authorities do not allow the Church to send priests to the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas, situated on the rocky coast in the easternmost point of the Karpas peninsula. It was built in 1867.
“The Turks want to uproot everything Greek and Christian in the occupied areas, we will fight with all our strength to prevent this from happening”, Archbishop Chrysostomos said.
In 1974 Turkey launched a military invasion of Cyprus. In the immediate aftermath until today what has been taking place is large scale damage to churches, historic churches have been seized, stripped and whitewashed and converted into mosques. In most of the Orthodox graveyards not a single tombstone has remained standing.
There are about 500 Greek Orthodox churches in the part of Cyprus currently occupied by the Turkish military.