ISTANBUL: The Turkish government on Tuesday strongly condemned an attack on an Armenian church in Istanbul which saw nationalist graffiti scrawled outside the building and rubbish dumped at its door.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the attack Monday on the Surp Takavor church in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul was "unacceptable" and emphasised security forces were investigating who was behind it.
It said after the incident Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had spoken to the acting Istanbul Armenian Patriarch Aram Atesyan and the head of the church in Kadikoy to pass his best wishes.
The attack saw piles of rotten rubbish dumped outside the entrance to the church and the words "from an Erzurum resident, this homeland is ours" scrawled on a wall.
Relations between Turkey and the modern state of Armenia remain held up by the dispute over the massacres of Ottoman Armenians from 1915 which Yerevan says was a genocide while Turkey strongly rejects the term.
Only a fraction of the historic population of Armenians remain in Turkey but a culturally-dynamic community numbering tens of thousands lives on, concentrated in Istanbul, where there are numerous Armenian churches.
Such attacks on the places of worship of Istanbul's present-day Christian and Jewish communities are extremely rare.
Erzurum, a major city in northeastern Turkey, was home to a large community of Armenians before 1915 whereas today there are none.