Historic Visit of Turkish Deputy PM to Bartholomew I in Istanbul

January 8, 2011  [, ]

A visit of great importance yesterday marked the conclusion of the holiday season for the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Bartholomew I received the deputy prime minister of the Turkish government Bulent Arinc, in charge of minority affairs for the AKP government and representative for the party’s religious wing. After blessing the waters of the Golden Horn and has launching a cross into the Sea of Marmara, Bartholomew I held talks with the Turkish government official.

The visit is the first for 58 years, when the prime minister of the time, Adnan Menderes, paid a visit to the then Patriarch Athenagoras. Unfortunately this visit was followed by the bloody anti-Christian pogrom of 1955, for which Menderes was partly responsible. Yesterday’s visit assumes special significance because it occurs one month after the legal recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Turkish authorities with the restitution of the deeds of property of the Buyukada orphanage. In August 2009 Patriarch Bartholomew visited Prime Minister Erdogan, and Minister Arinc.

During yesterday’s meeting – which also included the representative for minorities of the Directorate General of Foundations, Lakis Vingas – various issues were taken into consideration. Chief among these education for minorities and the properties of religious foundations, in the light of the new law on religious foundations, against which the opposition party CHP had appealed to the Constitutional Court. The appeal was dismissed.

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