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Cablegate: Acting Armenian Patriarch Criticizes Treatment By

VZCZCXRO2712
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0574 3221224
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171224Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8595
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000574

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM AA TU OSCE
SUBJECT: ACTING ARMENIAN PATRIARCH CRITICIZES TREATMENT BY
GOT

1. Summary. During a November 3 farewell call by the
Ambassador acting Armenian Patriarch, Archbishop Aram Ateysan
described Patriarch Mesrob II's failing health and indicated
the Patriarch will likely continue in his position until
death. Atesyan also outlined the impact of the amended
Foundations Law and expressed his sadness at the lack of
tangible outcomes from the Turkish community and government
following the murder of Hrant Dink. End summary.

2. According to Archbishop Atesyan, the Patriarch is
suffering from dementia and has become very forgetful. His
staff takes him out for two to three hours of fresh air daily
as he gradually "takes his hands from the world." The
Archbishop stressed that despite his poor health Mesrob II
remains the Patriarch, and only upon his death or choice to
renounce his role does an election occur. Additionally, 51
percent of the delegates who initially elected him can also
call him down from the Patriarchy.

3. While noting that the Armenian community has an on-going
problem with the GOT, the Archbishop said that their
situation improved during the AKP government. He stressed
that Prime Minister Erdogan is not a nationalist, and
therefore he understands the community. The 2008 amendment
to the Foundations Law showed that the AKP was open to
greater minority rights. According to the Archbishop,
Armenian foundations requested the return of 500 pieces of
property and only 50 have been returned. Despite the GOT
contention that it cannot return the remaining pieces as they
have been sold to third parties, the European Court of Human
Rights stated that in such cases the GOT must provide
compensation to the requesting party.

4. Critical of the lack of concrete results following the
"show" of support after the murder of Hrant Dink, the
Archbishop said the "people have given their attention but
nothing else, nothing positive." As Turkish citizens, he
said, the Armenian community wants what is rightfully theirs
and "does not want any more than any other Turk."
The government has decided to hold back these rights, and not
to recognize the Patriarchate as a formal institution,
because of their differences with Armenia, he contends.
According to the Archbishop, problems between the Armenian
communities - in Turkey and Armenia - and the Turkish
community are created by politicians, not the people
themselves. President Gul's trip to view the soccer match
between the Armenian and Turkish national teams in Yerevan
was a good gesture, he said, and more must be done to open
doors between the two countries.

5. With the potential of greater rights as minorities and
Turkish citizens in mind, the Archbishop hopes Turkey will
enter the European Union. In 1910, he explained that there
were 2,200 Armenian Orthodox Churches in Turkey while only 45
remain today. Currently the GOT does not provide any funds to
maintain their churches, schools, newspapers and hospital,
and the community survives through the donations and work of
the Armenian foundations. Overall, the Archbishop contends,
the AKP desires to improve conditions for members of minority
religious communities, but other parties have a role in
decision-making on government levels.
WIENER

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