Greek FM condemns holding of party in historic Izmir church
The Greek foreign ministry denounced on Saturday the holding of a party inside the historic Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Voukolos in Turkey's western city of Izmir.
"We unequivocally condemn the act of holding an electronic music party inside the historic Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Voukolos in Izmir, which is presently used as a venue for hosting cultural events by the Turkish Authorities," the ministry said in a statement, adding:
"Organising parties constitutes an insult and desecration of a historical monument that used to be a place of worship in the past. We call on the Turkish government to take all the necessary action so that the appropriate respect for the cultural, historical, and religious heritage of all religions is ensured on its territory."
CHP'li İzmir Büyükşehir Belediyesi'nin 'Kültür Merkezi' olarak kullandığı tarihi Aziz Vukolos Kilisesi’nde alkollü ve müzikli parti düzenlendi. pic.twitter.com/U3NT8EYyDN— Yeni Şafak (@yenisafak) July 8, 2023
Upon the release of images and videos from the party on social media, the chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Izmir branch also voiced criticism, slamming the opposition-held Izmir Metropolitan Municipality over the organization. Bilal Saygili noted that the historic church was under the municipality's authority, and said that there needs to be "a limit" to activities inside the church.
Greek City Times posted a video of the party on its website, saying:
"In an unacceptable challenge, the municipality of Smyrna allowed an electronic music party to be held inside Saint Voukolos Orthodox Church (...) As reported by SKAI, the specific church has historical value, while its property belongs to the municipality. There is also criticism from the Turkish pro-government media, as the municipality of Smyrna belongs to the opposition Republican People's Party."
Turkish pro-government media Yeni Safak also reported the incident, posting a video on Twitter.
Saint Voukolos Church was built in 1886 by the Armenians of the Greek Orthodox faith, and was opened to worship in 1887. It was the only structure of Armenians that was not damaged by the great fire of Izmir in 1922. The entire Armenian quarters of the city and a substantial part of Greek quarters were burned to the ground in the fire that followed the entry of Turkish forces into the city on 9 September 1922.