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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 08 December 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 DECEMBER 2018 23 DIALOGUE Can someone be considered Greek if they are not of the Greek Orthodox faith? CON VAITSAS After Turkey invaded and occupied northern Cyprus, ancient mosaics were stolen from the Church of Panagia Kanakaria (pictured), which is located in the Turkish-occupied zone. The mosaics were later discovered in the United States and returned to Cyprus in 1989. PHOTO: JULIAN NITZSCHE/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Turkey wipes out the Christian culture of Occupied Cyprus UZAY BULUT A sixth-century mosaic of Saint Mark, stolen from a church after Turkey's military invaded Cyprus in 1974, was recently recovered in a Monaco apartment and returned to Cypriot officials. The ancient masterpiece was described by Arthur Brand, the Dutch investigator who located it, as "one of the last and most beautiful examples of art from the early Byzantine era." Many other cultural Cypriot relics, from churches and other sites, were stolen from Cyprus by Turkish invaders and smuggled abroad. Some were recovered and returned in the past. In 1989, mosaics stolen from the Church of Panagia Kanakaria, discovered in the United States, were returned to Cyprus. In the summer of 1974, Tur- key mounted two major military campaigns against Cyprus and occupied the northern part of the island (which Turkey now calls the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," recognized only by Turkey). Since the Turkish invasion, much information has emerged not only about the atrocities committed against the Cypriots, but also of the destruction of historic, cultural and religious monuments. According to a 2012 report, The Loss of a Civilization: Destruction of cultural heritage in occupied Cyprus: "Turkey has been committing two major international crimes against Cyprus. It has invaded and divided a small, weak but modern and independent European state (since May 1, 2004 the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the EU); Turkey has also changed the demographic character of the More than 550 Greek Orthodox churches, chapels and monasteries located in towns and villages of the occupied areas, have been pillaged, deliberately vandalized and, in some cases, demolished. Many Christian places of worship have been converted into mosques, depots of the Turkish army, stockyards and hay barns.” - Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs island and has devoted itself to the systematic destruction and obliteration of the cultural heritage of the areas under its military control... "This is one of the most tragic aspects of the Cyprus problem and is also clear proof of the determination of Ankara to 'Turkify' the occupied area and to maintain a permanent pres- ”UNESCO considers the intentional destruction of cultural heritage a war crime.” - Artnet News, 2017 ence in Cyprus. "The occupying power and its puppet regime, from 1974 until today, have been working methodically to erase everything that is Greek and/or Christian from occupied Cyprus..." A 2015 United States Library of Congress report confirmed the report: "Foreign archaeological teams that were engaged in excavations in Cyprus were forced to discontinue their work after the 1974 events. Their valuable findings have been looted and the teams have not been able to return and resume their excavations. "According to some estimates, through illegal excavations in the northern part of Cyprus, more than 60,000 Cypriot artifacts have been stolen and exported abroad to be sold in auction houses or by art dealers. The example of an ancient site dating from Neolithic times at the Cape of St. Andreas illustrates this point. The site, which had already been excavated under the aegis of the Department of Archaeology prior to 1974, was later damaged by the Turkish armed forces during the installation and hoisting of the flags of Turkey and the 'TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus].'" In 2016, a report by the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that: "More than 550 Greek Orthodox churches, chapels and monasteries located in towns and villages of the occupied areas, have been pillaged, deliberately vandalized and, in some cases, demolished. Many Christian places of worship have been converted into mosques, depots of the Turkish army, stockyards and hay barns. This fact clearly proves that the religious heritage in the occupied areas has been the target of the occupation regime as part of its policy to eradicate the cultural character of the area. Moreover, important cultural monuments and places of worship continue to be completely inaccessible because they are located within the 'military zones' of the Turkish occupation army... "The destruction is not limited to the monuments belonging to the Church of Cyprus, but also extends to religious monuments belonging to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and to the Armenian, Maronite and Catholic Churches of Cyprus, as for example the Armenian Monastery Sourp Magar in Halefka and the Maronite Monastery of Prophet Elias in Skylloura." A 2017 article for Artnet, detailing atrocities committed by the Islamic State (ISIS) against relics in museums, mosques, churches and archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq, says that "UNESCO considers the intentional destruction of cultural heritage a war crime." Meanwhile, Turkey -- which has been committing the intentional destruction of occupied Cyprus's cultural heritage for more than four decades -- remains a member of NATO and a candidate for membership in the European Union. This is a situation that the West must force Turkey to address -- and not only when an individual piece of looted art, such as the mosaic of Saint Mark, happens to be rescued. *Uzay Bulut, is a Turkish journalist, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C. This article was originally published on Gatestone Institute. Can someone be considered Greek if they are not of the Greek Orthodox faith? Many years ago I had read you had to also be Greek Orthodox if you called yourself a Greek and I subconsciously believed it. But in recent decades I have changed my mind dramatically. On a closed Facebook group site of over 16,000 people, for Greek Australians dedicated to posting not only stories and photos about our immigrant ancestors, whether they be parents, or other relatives and friends, posts are also added about other issues dedicated to being an Australian Greek, as long as it's not political or a divisive subject. But just a few weeks ago a question was asked of the group and over a period of just hours before it was stopped by the administrators, hundreds of comments were made. The question was whether you can still be Greek if you are an atheist, Jew, Catholic, Muslim or any other religion apart from Greek Orthodox? This is most relevant today with so many interracial marriages and people partnering with others of a different faith or even no faith at all and their children pos- sibly not being baptised in an Orthodox Church, if at all. There was a variety of an- swers, some plain ridiculous and others openly intolerant of anyone not of the Greek Orthodox faith, a few mentioned the cross on the flag proving you could only be Orthodox while others yet questioned what would we classify the Ancient Greeks who believed in the 12 ancient Gods. Were they not Greek? But it seems insulting and dangerous that as many of us know someone or are ourselves perhaps in an interracial or interfaith relationship that we no longer recognise these people as being Greek just because of their religion or atheism. These people who are the supposed guardians of who can be considered as Greek or not, seem to forget they live in a country that allows them not to be discriminated against due to their own religion and still be regarded as an Australian, yet they want to discriminate in regards to who should be considered a citizen in a country they don't even live in. It's time people stopped being petty, discriminatory and perhaps even racist about who they think is a Greek. Con Vaitsas Ashbury An open letter to the Secretary General of the Greek Community of Melbourne SAVVAS GRIGOROPOULOS Dear Mr. Kostas Markos, I would like to bring a proposal for discussion to the assembly of the next General Meeting on a serious issue concerning the community and the second and third generations. I also personally attended the schools of our community. I know that children attending our community and 'paroikia' schools hardly learn anything about our Greek community or 'paroikia'. I suggest introducing a lesson in our community schools whereby students will be taught the history of our community and our paroikia organizations. To learn about the philosophy of our organization, the aims of the community (G.O.C.M.V.) and its democratic nature, its total independence and the sovereign autonomous structure and its mode of operation. How we have community members. How the members of its governing board are elected every three years. That the members and each board member are volunteers. That the focus of its function is the ethos of volunteerism and philanthropy etc. How our organization (G.O.C.M.V.) plays an important role in representing our community in the broader Victorian community and also negotiates with state and federal governments on issues of major concern for Greek -Australians here in the state of Victoria. Sincerely Yours, Savvas Grigoropoulos - (Kallimachos).
01 December 2018