FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- DECEMBER 3, 1997
SAE PRESIDENT ATHENS
WRITES TO PRESIDENT CLINTON
REGARDING ATTACK ON PATRIARCHATE
Today President Bill Clinton received a letter from Andrew A. Athens,
president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), regarding this
morning's terrorist bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul,
Turkey. Athens told the president that this attack, "the fourth such
attack in recent years, has Orthodox Christians and other supporters of His
All Holiness very concerned." Athens urged the President to "do everything
possible to get the Prime Minister of Turkey, with whom you will soon be
meeting, to assure effective protection of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the
Ecumenical Patriarchate from this concerted effort."
Athens told President Clinton that, "I am currently in Thessaloniki,
Greece with over 340 elected representatives of Hellenic communities around
the world (an estimated seven million Hellenes in 141 countries) who have
gathered for the second conference of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad,
of which I am the world president. Each of us is asking our respective
government to strongly urge the government of Turkey to provide effective
protection for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for His All Holiness."
Athens noted that, "early this morning an explosive device damaged the
Ecumenical Patriarchate and sent a deacon to the hospital with shrapnel in
his shoulder. In September of last year, the Patriarchate came under a
terrorist attack in the form of a grenade and machine gun fire. The
explosion tore off the corner of the roof of the Patriarchal Cathedral and
blew the windows out of the sleeping quarters. In May of 1994 three very
powerful bombs linked to a timing device were found and diffused only a few
minutes before they were to detonate. Had this terrorist bomb exploded,
the Ecumenical Patriarchate and everyone and everything within its walls
would have been destroyed. Just two months before, two firebombs were
hurled into the Ecumenical Patriarchate."
Athens concluded by saying, "This spiritual center for more than 300
million Orthodox Christians world-wide, including approximately five
million in the United States, is in obvious danger. All civilized nations
of this world have a vested interest in protecting this extraordinary
religious leader who was described by the highest honor America can bestow,
the Congressional Gold Medal, as an `apostle of love, peace and hope.'"
For more information, please contact Mike Manatos <Manatos@interserv.com> at (202) 393-7790.