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Church

Turkish News Agency Spotlights Greece’s, Orthodox Churches’ Aid

February 14, 2023

LONDON– Expressions of Turkish appreciation for Greek earthquake relief extends to an article on the English page of the official Anadolu Agency website.

The headline reads: ‘’Turks help us, we help them’: Greek Orthodox churches across UK collect donations for quake survivors,” and is followed by a poignant subhead: “Our hearts are broken seeing what happened in Türkiye,’ says priest during ‘unique’ Sunday service at Greek Orthodox Church in London.”

The Agency noted that “all Greek Orthodox Churches in the UK collected donations on Sunday for victims of the Feb. 6 powerful earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria. The move came by the order of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the UK, an incredible gesture given the decades-long political dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, proving how disasters bring different communities together despite disagreements.”

Rev. Dr. Chrysostom Tympas said during a Sunday service at the Greek Orthodox Church Saint Anargye in London that, “our hearts are broken seeing what happened in Türkiye, that was hit by earthquakes,” and added the plea: “Please make your donations generously for those who suffer and would be so for a long time.”

John Kaponi, the secretary of the church, noted that “over 100 churches across the UK today are doing the same thing, all of them collecting money for the earthquake victims in Turkey,” which Anadolu noted “was a unique event since they have not done this before, on a nationwide basis on this level under the archdiocese in the UK.”

Kaponi said everyone is very “upset” in their community and “extremely sympathetic” to the Turkish people, and Anadolu added that he said people “have been deeply affected by the images of children that were saved by rescue teams in the region.”

“And through this gesture, we want to show the Turkish people … the love and solidarity that we need,” Kaponi added.

Notwithstanding an ancient rivalry that continually threatens to break out in a war, Constantine Buhayer told Anadolu, “it is traditional for Greeks and Turks to support each other in times of earthquakes. I have witnessed before Turks who have helped us. We have helped them too. And we will continue to do so. It is human,”

He added, “I am sure people have given money individually because the Greek and Turkish communities here are very close… British Greeks in British terms, we find the same political battles. We belong to the same parties. We support each other. We vote for each other. We shop at each other’s shops.”

Buhayer elaborated on the irony that Greeks and Turks are connected…by seismic fault lines in this way. “It hits you in the stomach. It even hits you more in the stomach because you know that the fault line that goes through Türkiye (also) goes through Greece. What happened in Türkiye can happen in Greece,” he added.

Elsa Demyanidu, a Greek born in Constantinople, said “it’s hard to describe this pain and hard to describe our feelings… We are with all those who suffer and the Patriarchate both in Greece and here is trying to help both financially and morally. Everyone should do their best.”

“Today’s gathering is extremely important,” said Irene Hadjipateras, who added, “despite being always at loggerheads with each other, we’re very closely bounded anyway through history, and in a tragedy like this, we will always stand by each other. I think it is mutual.”

The reporter, Aysu Bicer, wrote: “Türkiye and Greece should not wait for another earthquake to mend fences, the Turkish foreign minister said Sunday.”

The article then noted that Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hailed Greece’s support in the wake of the devastating earthquakes, quoting him that, “the fact that Nikos Dendias is here with us today shows the solidarity of the Greek people with Türkiye and the Turkish nation… Good neighborly relations are seen during such challenging times.”

He then recalled 1999, when earthquakes struck Greece and Turkey a month apart. “At that time, first Greece rushed to help us, then Türkiye rushed to help Greece.”

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