Turkey’s Interior Ministry Rejects Draft Constitution for Armenian Patriarchate

ANKARA (Marmara)–Turkey’s interior ministry opposed a new constitution drafted by the country’s foreign ministry for the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey–reported Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Citing the Treaty of Lausanne–the interior ministry said the rights foreseen by the constitution exceed those of the treaty–and would succeed in making Armenia’s of Turkey a privileged minority–thus setting an unfavorable precedent for other minorities.

To date–the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey has not had a constitution–and Patriarchal elections have always been carried out based on the decision of Turkey’s Council of Ministers. The government of Turkey does not officially recognize the Patriarchate.

It appears that the foreign ministry drafted the constitution in response to numerous appeals to correct the situation. Though the details of the document are not public–the interior ministry said the function of the Partriarchate is solely religious–and in no way does it possess political or executive privileges.

The interior ministry also reminded that the Treaty of Lausanne makes no mention of the Armenian Patriarchate–and that its elections have been guided in accordance with the 1961 bylaws of Turkey’s Council of Ministers–saying that the trend must continue.

What is most disturbing about the Cumhuriyet article is the interior ministry’s proposal on defrocking the Patriarch. The paper reports that whereas the foreign ministry draft constitution stipulates that only the religious assembly has the authority to remove the patriarch from his position–the interior ministry gran’s the authority to Turkey’s Council of Ministers–recommending the body amend its constitution to grant itself this power. "If it becomes understood that the elected Patriarch does not possess the expected qualifications–or abandons any one of the qualifications at any point–as confirmed by the courts–then the Council of Ministers may defrock the Patriarch–on the recommendation of the interior ministry," writes Cumhuriyet.

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