Review by Christos T. Panagopoulos –
A renovation project around the historic Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church has caused a rift within Istanbul’s Greek community.
The 133-year-old church, which is surrounded by small buffets despite being located in the heart of Taksim Square, Istanbul’s most central point, came to the national agenda after Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, vowed to “give the historic building back the look it deserves”.
Members of the Balıklı Greek Foundation held a meeting with shop owners on Oct. 3 with an eye to reaching an agreement on a number of issues before a planned visit with Erdoğan. However, the Hagia Triada Foundation has reacted negatively to the Balıklı Greek Foundation’s action on the issue, claiming that the body does not have the legitimacy to represent the Greek community.
“Frankly, we are deeply saddened with the fact that an issue, which is highly important for our community, is being discussed by third persons, and even shop owners, who are the subject of a legal feud with us”, Yorgos Papalyaris, the head of the Hagia Triada Foundation, said. “Shop owners, who had lost court cases, and who clearly used church areas [without legal justification], were called to the meeting, but not us”.
Papalyaris said they were open to projects, but the “cleaning” of the church area should be done immediately, and added that the surrounding shops had severely damaged the church’s foundations.
Balıklı Greek Foundation representatives refused to comment on the issue.