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Cablegate: Patriarch Expresses Appreciation for Department

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 002077

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL TU OSCE
SUBJECT: PATRIARCH EXPRESSES APPRECIATION FOR DEPARTMENT
STATEMENT


REF: A. ISTANBUL 1359
B. ISTANBUL 1333
C. ISTANBUL 1199

1, (SBU) During an unscheduled call to conduct routine
consular business, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed
to us his deep appreciation for the Department's December 5
statement affirming the U.S. view that he is a "religious
leader of global standing." "Of course we know this has
always been your position," he said, but it was "very useful"
to have it written explicity in terms of his effort to
influence Turkish public opinion on the issue.

2. (U) As part of that effort, the Patriarch has been active
on a number of fronts. In a long interview for the daily
newspaper "Milliyet" published December 1 and 2, he pressed
for the opening of Halki Seminary, stressing that there is no
legal hurdle and the problem instead is a lack of "political
will." He also reviewed the property issues that beset the
church, and explained the origins of the "Ecumenical" title,
noting that it was used "during the Byzantine, Ottoman and
Republic periods" and asking why it is an issue now. He
dismissed the argument that it contravenes the Lausanne
Treaty, noting that in any case the treaty was never
implemented in full. He also scoffed at the argument that
his goal is to recreate Constantinople or to create a
Vatican-like structure, noting that "we are devoted to our
country, the Republic of Turkey," and have "never created a
problem for our country."

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3. (U) The Patriarch amplified these points in his message on
the annual feast of St. Andrew on November 30. Speaking to
an invited audience that included prominent business leaders,
media, diplomats, cultural figures, representatives of the
"World Conference of Religions for Peace" (which held its
annual Trustees' meeting in Istanbul), and a Vatican
delegation headed by Cardinal Kasper, Bartholomew outlined
the history of his See, and argued that according to the
tradition in Western countries (and pointedly in those that
"follow their example), a country "will not interfere in the
internal affairs of the various religions within its polity,
for it respects their self-governance and...remains
tolerant." He stressed that the Patriarchate does not become
involved in politics, but does advocate on behalf of human
rights and "an amelioration of the circumstances of human
life." In closing he expressed support for Turkey's European
vocation, underscoring his belief that through EU accession
"not only shall religious freedom be better protected," but
"minority issues (shall) be dealt with more effectively," and
the "prosperity of the Turkish people shall increase."

4. (SBU) Note: The Patriarch will be traveling to Florida
next month for the "Blessing of the Waters," followed by a
possible side trip to New Orleans to conduct a prayer service
for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and will remain out of
Turkey for much of the rest of January and early February
with follow on trips to Mexico and Brazil. End Note.
JONES

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