Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Turkish Minister: It is not possible to recognize a legal personality for the Patriarchate

Voicing determination to expand the rights and freedoms of non-Muslim communities in Turkey, including Orthodox Christians, a senior Cabinet minister has made it clear that such willingness does not mean Ankara recognizes the legal personality of the İstanbul-based Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

“The institution represented by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew does not have a legal personality under current Turkish law. They don't have a legal personality, but they exist,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said on Monday, echoing Ankara's argument that Turkey doesn't consider the patriarchate to be ecumenical, in line with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which governs the status of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey.

Ankara rejects Patriarch Bartholomew's use of the title “ecumenical,” or universal, arguing instead that the patriarch is merely the spiritual leader of İstanbul's dwindling Greek Orthodox community.

The Fener Greek Patriarchate in İstanbul dates back to the 1,100-year-old Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453.
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