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Cablegate: Environment Ministry Adds to Ecumenical

VZCZCXRO7138
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0996 3191239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151239Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7672
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000996

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV TU
SUBJECT: ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY ADDS TO ECUMENICAL
PATRIARCHATE'S PROPERTY PROBLEMS

1. (U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) Ecumenical Patriarchate staff confirmed November
15 press reports concerning Ministry of Forestry (MOF)
attempts, earlier in the week, to intervene with the
renovation of a church property on Heybeli Island. According
to Metropolitan Meliton, a senior advisor to Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew I, a crew of eight MOF employees
destroyed roof tiles, windows and window frames, which were
part of the renovation of the Church of the Transfiguration,
a small monastery that is on the same island as, but separate
from, Halki Seminary. Pictures that Meliton sent to us show
considerable damage to the interior and exterior of the
church.

3. (SBU) Mainstream "Hurriyet" newspaper reported that the
MOF argued the property belonged to the Treasury and that, as
a result, the patriarchate was not permitted to renovate the
church. While Meliton acknowledged that the property had
been confiscated by the General Directorate of Foundations,
he maintained the patriarchate had been authorized to
continue to use the church and had been given verbal
permission to conduct minor renovations to the property.
Meliton further confirmed the accuracy of Hurriyet's report
that Bartholomew wrote a letter of appeal to the District
Governor of the Princes' Islands Mevlut Kurban and that
Kurban had responded to Bartholomew's appeal by preventing
the MOF from further destroying the church property. Meliton
does not yet know whether the patriarchate will be permitted
to continue with the restoration of the church.
WIENER

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