05 May, 2005
ISTANBUL 5/5/2005 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Phanar on Wednesday, during his official visit to Turkey.
According to sources, during the meeting which was conducted in a friendly atmosphere, Schroeder and Vartholomeos discussed the problems the patriarchate continues to face in Turkey.
Although Schroeder did not make any statements after the meeting, he did mention during a press conference in Ankara earlier, that he places great emphasis on the protection of religious freedom and minority rights, underscoring the need for patience in dealing with such delicate issues.
"We sincerely appreciate this visit and we believe that it will contribute to the solution of our problems," Vartholomeos said in reference to Schroeder's visit.
Vartholomeos spoke of the European Union's contribution in resolving the problems the patriarchate is facing.
"Within the context of Turkey's European course, better days will come for the Greek community here, our Patriarchate and for all minorities in Turkey," Vartholomeos said.
"We hope and we pray that today's difficulties will be overcome and that our Patriarchate will enjoy a larger range of movement as it conducts its ecumenical mission. Also, we hope that the injustices committed at our expense in the past will be reversed, that the property unjustly taken from the Greek community and from our institutions will be returned. This is what justice demands, what democracy and the European Union demand. This is why we are optimistic about the future," Vartholomeos concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency