GR US

Second Open Letter to President Donald Trump

Αssociated Press

A view of the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, one of Istanbul s main tourist attractions in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Dear Mr. President,

In an effort to respect your time, it was not my intention to send you a second open letter, after yesterday's first, in which I presented to you the essence of the matter regarding Aghia Sophia.

But the facts force me to do so in the hope that in this way I will contribute to the protection of American interests, as well as the interests of Orthodox Christians, including Greeks, and all Christians more generally

As you certainly know much better than I do, in every age - and especially in the present - propaganda is as important as reality. He who loses the battle of painting the picture of reality against propagandists, loses the war on the vital front of public opinion.

And Russia, under former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, has specialized in propaganda to secure public support for issues of interest to his country.

Yesterday, your advisers likely informed you that Putin had called on Erdogan to "pay attention to the importance of the public outcry in Russia over the decision to change the status of the Aghia Sophia."

Mr. President,

Putin doesn’t care about the Aghia Sophia. Nor does he care about the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The opposite is the case. The Russians are doing everything they can, as your advisers certainly know, to weaken the Patriarchate. I remind you of the recent events in Ukraine and the war Moscow waged against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because of its brave, pro-Western position.

Why is Putin "interested" in the Aghia Sophia?

It is clear that the Russian President wants to declare himself the protector of the Orthodox Church.

And at no actual cost.

Note that he did not do or say anything before Erdogan's decision to convert the Aghia Sophia into a working mosque, unlike you, who took a stand through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement.

However, he appears after the fact and calls Erdogan in an effort to maintain and amplify the myth that Russia is the force protecting Orthodoxy and the Greeks, as many believe

The truth is that Russia has never done anything as substantial for Greece as America has done. A Marshall Plan, a Truman Plan, something.

And yet, with such propaganda actions, he manages to win the gratitude of many Greeks.

Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, Mr. President, Putin's speech will be discussed in the churches, in the debates among Greek citizens, and in some media.

You must not allow Putin's propaganda to stand.

It is unjust that America did what was right before the events that lead to the conversion of the Aghia Sophia took place - when it actually counted - but then came under attack by Turkey's government for acting preemptively. In the meantime, Russia has stolen America's fruits of labor while concurrently manipulating the public perception of the world's Orthodox Faithful.

Mr. President,

Only you can pick up the phone and ask Erdogan to reverse his decision to turn Aghia Sophia into a mosque.

Only you can liberate Aghia Sophia from Erdogan's grip, as you did with Pastor Andrew Branson.

Only you can counter Russia’s propaganda moves.

Do not let the Orthodox, including the Greeks, get the wrong impression that Russia is their protector.

Because it is unjust, and we will be dealing with the negative consequences for many years to come.