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01 June, 1999
Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, during a visit yesterday to the Panagia Soumela monastery in western Macedonia, said that a possible move of the Patriarchate from Istanbul is not even considered.
The Patriarch clarified that the Patriarchate will not move from Istanbul, which he called the "Queen of Cities", responding to statements of Patriarch of Antioch Ignantios, who said that it would be better for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to move from Istanbul.
Later in the day, he arrived in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, as he continued his first official tour of Greece.
Speaking to the people gathered to welcome him, the Ecumenical Patriarch condemned what he called efforts to create problems in the relations between the Patriarchate and the Greek Autocephalous Church over the episcopates of the so-called "new lands."
The "new lands" consist of the episcopates of Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace as they were incorporated into the Greek state during the 20th century and in some cases almost a century after the establishment of the Greek Church.
Those episcopates were placed under Greek Church administration following a 1928 Ecumenical and Synodical Decree, but spiritually they are led by the Patriarchate. However there are voices in the Greek Church supporting a full and total incorporation of those areas into the Greek Church.
Mr. Vartholomeos was welcomed in Thessaloniki by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the city's Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and other local leaders, and a large number of local citizens.
Mr. Vartholomeos yesterday also visited the ancient Macedonian tombs at Vergina, one of which is purported to be that of King Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.
Source: Athens News Agency