04 June 2007
On Wednesday morning, 30 May 2007, His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey, received a delegation of members of the USA Congress in the Spiritual Council room of the Patriarchate. USA Consul-General in Istanbul Deborah K. Jones also attended the meeting. . .
During their meeting His Beatitude the Patriarch said the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul was a fruit of interreligious dialogue since, as a first in world history, it was established by Sultan Fatih Mehmet, a Muslim ruler. His Beatitude the Patriarch informed the delegation that the Istanbul Patriarchate was one of the four hierarchical centers of the Armenian Church, the others being in Etchmiadzin, Beirut, and Jerusalem. His Beatitude the Patriarch said that he carries out all of his duties relating to the Armenian community of Turkey as citizens of the Republic of Turkey. He declared that the Armenians of Turkey are loyal citizens.
Other topics discussed in the meeting were the Armenian Genocide Bill being pushed by Armenians in the United States, the Hrant Dink assassination, the murder of the priest Father Santoro in Trabzon, the massacre of Protestants in Malatya, the Bill on Foundations that was vetoed by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Turkish-Armenian relations, and the Turkish-Armenian joint Historical Research initiative advocated by Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan.
In response to a question of one of the members of Congress, His Beatitude the Patriarch responded as follows. “From the perspective of both Turkish-Armenia bilateral relations, and relations between the Armenians of Turkey and the Turkish public, we are not positive about the Armenian Genocide Bill before the US Congress. But we also don’t deny historical facts. The position taken by the Party of Unity and Progress in punishing all Armenians of Turkey, and not just those Armenian groups who had taken up arms against the government, can never be forgiven. One and a half million Armenian citizens perished in the deserts of Syria, and today in our country there are only 70,000 Armenians. It should also not be forgotten that at the time of the deportation our ethnic Armenian citizens said they were Muslims in order to be saved from banishment. They still speak Armenian and live the Armenian culture, and we count them as part of us even if their religion is different. On the other hand, we cannot approve of the endeavours of the Armenian Diaspora concerning these historical events. We are citizens of the Republic of Turkey, and we are engaged in business and social activities in Turkey with our Turkish Muslim neighbours. We do not want to see our favourable relationships with our Turkish Muslim neighbours damaged by this draft bill. It is time now to develop more future-oriented policies. The Republics of Turkey and Armenia share a common border today. Since there is no question of altering these borders, Armenians in Turkey are very much interested in treaties between these two countries. We are tied to the Republic of Turkey by the bonds of citizenship. But we also have cultural and religious ties to the Republic of Armenia. We want nothing other than peace and harmony for the Armenians of Turkey. The Diaspora’s combative approach will act to upset things.”
The members of the visiting delegation thanked His Beatitude the Patriarch for his views. After a souvenir photograph was taken, and then a visit to the Holy Mother of God Patriarchal Basilica, the group departed from Kumkapi.
Copyright © 2004 Lraper Org