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Cablegate: Press Accreditation for Pope's Visit to Istanbul

VZCZCXRO9615
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #2081 3191423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151423Z NOV 06
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6341
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 002081

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINS PGOV TU
SUBJECT: PRESS ACCREDITATION FOR POPE'S VISIT TO ISTANBUL

1. (SBU) The Turkish press today carried a story accusing
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of trying to usurp the
government's role by issuing press credentials to reporters
covering the Pope's visit later this month. According to the
story, members of the press must receive accreditation both
from the General Directorate of Media and Information (BYEGM)
in the Prime Minister's office and separately from the
Patriarchate to be admitted to the Patriarchate and an
off-site press center. Papers quoted BYEGM Director Izzet
Ibrikcioglu as saying its accreditation should be sufficient.
Patriarchate representative Paul Gikas, on the other hand,
explained that limited space, particularly in the relatively
small St. Georges Church on the Patriarchate grounds,
required limiting access. Gikas suggested the use of the
word "registration" might be more accurate than
"accreditation."

2. (SBU) According to Gikas, the Patriarchate plans to
establish a Press Center at the Hilton Hotel with a pool
camera feed and standard press facilities. The Pope will be
traveling with 70 members of the press from the Vatican. The
Vatican has requested that 25 of these traveling press be
given access to the events at the Fener church. The
Patriarchate plans to select another 25 from registration
applications received for access to the Patriarchate grounds
and church. Gikas said the accreditation by the BYEGM was
required for registration with the Patriarchate; all those
accredited by the BYEGM would be registered and given access
to the Press Center in the Hilton. He noted that
Patriarchate Director of Communications the Very Reverend
Dositheos Anagnostopoulos had discussed these arrangements
with the Governor of Istanbul Muammer Guler (note: the
Governor is reponsible for security).

3. (U) November 14 was the closing date for filing
applications for press credentials with the BYEGM; the
Patriarchate is accepting applications until November 20,
according to the web site, www.patriarchate.org.

4. (SBU) Comment. It's not unusual that the media should
focus on media arrangements in connection withe the Papal
visit, but the angle of this story - and its implicit
suggestion that this is yet another way for the Partriarchate
to establish its independence from the Turkish state - is
further indication of the continued high sensitivity
regarding the Pope's upcoming visit. End comment.
JONES

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