Himare, Albania, municipal authorities demolished the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Athanasios in the early morning hours of Wednesday to the dismay of Orthodox Christian locals.
Bulldozers and municipal police arrived at the Drymades village where the church is and started working a little after 4:00 am, tearing down the church. Negotiations of the previous days between the local faithful and authorities proved to be fruitless.
Drymades village residents woke up to the sounds of the demolition but were unable to react. All they could do was to pick up the holy relics and pieces left of the church.
According to municipal authorities, the Albanian government had given specific orders for the demolition of the church because it was standing on a site that had been declared a cultural monument.
Last week, police and Himare municipal workers had entered the Orthodox Holy Church of Saint Athanasios and attempted to remove objects and icons from the structure’s interior and tear down part of the roof with the justification that it had been illegally built.
Foreign ministry condemns demolition of Greek minority church
Greece’s foreign ministry on Wednesday reacted strongly to news that Albanian authorities had knocked down the Orthodox church of Agios Athanassios in the village Drimmades, in the Himare region of southern Albania.
Replying to questions, foreign ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras noted that “the destruction of holy sites and objects of worship took place, at least until recently, in the wider region of the Middle East and North Africa, at the hands of jihadists. Today we also saw such an act carried out in our neighbouring country, Albania.”
Koutras said journalists will soon be informed about Greece’s actions in this instance, towards Albania and the international community.
“No further comment,” he concluded.