05 July, 2007
Greece's main opposition leader George Papandreou, head of PASOK, arrived in the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar on Wednesday and was received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate has inalienable rights and, of course, no one can dispute the Patriarchate's ecumenical nature," Papandreou said during his visit.
PASOK's leader and the Patriarch had a lengthy discussion, followed by a dinner given in Papandreou's honour by Bartholomew.
In statements addressed to Bartholomew, Papandreou said he visited Istanbul in order to express his support and sympathy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an institution, and also to the Patriarch in person.
He was referring to a recent ruling by a Turkish Supreme Court that disputed the Patriarchate's 'Ecumenical' nature and asserted that it actually represented only the tiny community of Greek Orthodox Christians that still remain in Turkey.
Patriarch Bartholomew said the court's decision was an addition to the existing outstanding problems faced by the Patriarchate in Turkey:
"This ecumenicalism is for us and for all the Christian - and not just the Christian - world, a fact and has applied from the 6th century until today," Bartholomew said during his talks with Papandreou.
"This recent decision of the Ankara Supreme Court does not in the slightest affect the outward presence, mission and testimony of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On the other side, it is sad to see this not pleasant attitude toward the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from the powers in our country," he added.
"We hope that some solution will be given as soon as possible, especially after the elections that are coming here in Turkey," Bartholomew said, expressing hope that there would "positive developments" after the formation of a new Turkish government and noting that this would be good not just for the Patriarchate but also for Turkey, which was seeking to join the EU and must on this course "revise many of its traditional positions and attitudes".
Papandreou promised to discuss the issue of the Patriarchate with the Portuguese prime minister, whose country took over the rotating EU presidency on Monday.
"Solving the problems that you face is, of course, among the obligations that Turkey must fulfill in its course toward the EU," Papandreou noted in his talks with the Patriarch.
Source: Athens News Agency