Archbishop Elpidophoros, the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, attended a ceremony for the opening of the Turkevi Center presided over by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York on Monday.
The Turkevi Center, which will become the hub of Turkish culture in the US, will also house the UN’s permanent mission of Turkey and the Turkish Consulate General.
Elpidophoros notes importance of Ecumenical Patriarchate
In a message on social media, Elpidophoros said he congratulated Erdogan on the opening of the Turkevi Center. He added that “as always I insist on the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the re-opening of the Halki Theological School, and supporting the rights of religious minorities of Turkey.”
I congratulated Pres. Erdogan on the opening of the Turkevi Center, together with UN SG Guterres. As always I insist on the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the re-opening of the Halki Theological School, and supporting the rights of religious minorities of Turkey.
— Elpidophoros (@Elpidophoros) September 20, 2021
However, Elpidophoros’ presence at the ceremony created negative reactions among some Greeks and Armenians. The Armenian National Committee of America said in Twitter:
“Shunned by the DC establishment (hawks, doves, and everyone in between) – desperately seeking allies – Erdogan recruits Azerbaijani diplomats, representatives of the illegal Turkish occupation force in Cyprus, and the Greek Orthodox Church for this staged photo op in NYC.”
Shunned by the DC establishment (hawks, doves, and everyone in between) – desperately seeking allies – Erdogan recruits Azerbaijani diplomats, representatives of the illegal Turkish occupation force in Cyprus, and the Greek Orthodox Church for this staged photo op in NYC. pic.twitter.com/yX5CiYLvZD
— ANCA (@ANCA_DC) September 20, 2021
Erdogan: Turkevi Center a symbol of Turkey’s diplomatic success
The Turkevi Center, a 36-story skyscraper located just across the street from UN headquarters, features traditional Turkish architectural motifs, especially from the Seljuk Empire.
It was designed as a symbolic skyscraper that will add to the skyline of New York, one of the world’s most iconic cities, while reflecting Turkish culture, history and diversity.
Speaking at its opening ceremony, which also featured a music concert, Erdogan said the Turkevi Center will stand as a reflection of Turkey’s place on the world stage ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, in 2023.
“We are proud” of the new center, said the President.
“Because for our nation and for our state, we have now bestowed a permanent work of art. We are proud because of we are adding to the silhouette of New York, with a sterling example of our historical and traditional architecture,” said Erdogan.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurates the landmark Turkevi Center in New York City, saying the building is a reflection of Turkey's place on the world stag pic.twitter.com/71O4DiQgGK
— TRT World (@trtworld) September 21, 2021
“I would like to extend my special gratitude to each of you for being with us on this historic day,” he added. He also said the Turkevi Center is a symbol of Turkey’s faith in the United Nations, along with multilateralism, justice, and peace.
Erdogan said the building will serve for decades to come as a lasting symbol of Turkey’s diplomatic success.
Among the guests who attended the inauguration at 821 First Avenue in Manhattan was Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General.
Calling it an “enormous pleasure” to attend the inauguration of the new Turkevi Center, Guterres went on to laud Turkey’s unmatched record in hosting and helping refugees.
“I am personally familiar with the enormous generosity of Turkey and Turkish host communities towards refugees,” said Guterres, adding: “I offer my sincere appreciation for your support to people in need of protection.”