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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK leader visits Ecumenical Patriarch
  • [02] Pope receives Greek FM Bakoyannis

  • [01] PASOK leader visits Ecumenical Patriarch

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas) 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 the 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.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    [02] Pope receives Greek FM Bakoyannis

    VATICAN (ANA-MPA L. Hatzikyriakos) Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was given a private audience at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday. During the 15-minute meeting, they discussed issues concerning the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey's prospects of joining the European Union and the situation in the surrounding region.

    "Today's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was for us particularly important because it gave us an opportunity to have a detailed discussion on issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the need for international support for the Ecumenical Patriarchate at a time that is particularly difficult, in the wake of the Turkish court's decision," she said after meeting the Pope.

    The minister was referring to a recent decision by a Turkish court that disputed the right of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar to call itself as "Ecumenical" - a title that has followed it down several centuries - and asserted that it actually represented only a tiny community of Greek Orthodox Christians that still remain in Turkey.

    The Greek minister stressed that this was a time when "we must unite our voices and explain to all that decisions of this sort have absolutely no place in the modern world".

    She underlined that the ecumenical nature of the Patriarchate in Fanar was not disputed by its history nor by those of the Orthodox faith, who recognised the foremost primate of the Orthodox Church as the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    "The message of Pope Benedict was exceedingly clear and I believe that the Vatican will continue to carry it everywhere with the same intensity," Bakoyannis added, noting that the Pope had also expressed his best wishes for the speedy recovery of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church.

    "He was fully informed about the state of the Archbishop's health and, as you remember, he had also sent a telegram and one of his representatives to Athens," she said. Christodoulos has been in hospital for the past weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour from his intestine.

    Bakoyannis then had a longer meeting with the Vatican's foreign minister, the Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

    She said that her talks with Mamberti had covered Greece's dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over that republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia', following the Archbishop's recent visit to Skopje, and other issues concerning the area.

    Caption: Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (L) was received at the Vatican on Wednesday, 4 July 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI. ANA-MPA photo / A. DOUKAS

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