Turkish President Joins in Criticism of Patriarch Bartholomew

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–President Abdullah Gul on Monday joined the government’s harsh criticism against Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, whose remarks, in which he likened his treatment by the government in Turkey to crucifixion, have angered Ankara.

Speaking in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” for a story broadcast in the United States on Sunday night, Patriarch Bartholomew said Turkey’s Greek Orthodox community does not enjoy complete freedom as Turkish citizens and are treated as “second-class citizens.”

Asked whether he would consider going to Greece, he said he would stay in Turkey. “This is the continuation of Jerusalem and for us an equally holy and sacred land. We prefer to stay here, even crucified sometimes,” said Bartholomew. Asked if he feels crucified, he replied, “Yes, I do,” according to excerpts published by CBS on Friday.

Ankara’s response was swift, as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday told reporters: “We consider the crucifixion metaphor an extremely unfortunate metaphor. In our history, there have never been crucifixions, and there never will be. I couldn’t really reconcile this metaphor with his mature personality.” President Abdullah Gul, speaking at a press conference on Monday ahead of his departure from Ankara for an official visit to Kuwait, was reminded of the controversial remarks by Bartholomew.

“The foreign minister spoke of the issue extremely well. There is nothing further to say on the issue,” Gul responded briefly.

Ankara’s criticism towards Bartholomew had already garnered a response from Athens on Sunday when Greek Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gregory Delavekouras issued a statement saying that among Turkey’s obligations for joining the European Union is “that respect for freedom of religion and for the rights of minorities takes precedence.”

“It is the duty of all, and mainly those who are responsible for the situation of the ecumenical patriarch and the Greek minority, to pay attention,” Delavekouras said.

Bartholomew’s remarks sparked further criticism from both the government and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Sunday.

In Izmir, speaking at a conference organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc called the patriarch’s criticism “unacceptable,” while reiterating that Turkey doesn’t consider the patriarchate to be ecumenical in line with the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which governs the status of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey.

Arinc recalled a rare meeting during which Bartholomew and leaders of the small Armenian, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic communities had lunch with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior ministers, including Arinc, on Buyukada, an island near mainland Istanbul.

At the meeting held in August, Erdogan promised democratic reforms, highlighting the issue of minority rights, a key stumbling block in Turkey’s EU membership bid. Arinc said all religious leaders attending the August meeting, including Bartholomew, then stated that they enjoyed their religious rights during the AK Party government and thanked them for that. “If a speech like this is delivered four months later, then it is an unfortunate speech,” Arinc said.

The CBS interview was recorded in May, months before the Buyukada gathering.

In Ankara, CHP Deputy Chairman Onur Oymen released a statement in which he criticized both the patriarch and Davutoğlu. Calling Bartholomew’s remarks “inappropriate,” Oymen suggested that Davutoglu’s response to those remarks was “too weak.”

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  1. rony said:

    The irony is that  the US officials  never forget a chance where they  don’t speak of Turkish Democracy

  2. Alex Postallian said:

    The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew a rightous,religous,and a man of extreme integrity, is 100% correct I wonder how long the turkophobes and paid STOOGIES will finally realize the turks are incorrigible liars and hated by most of Europe.Look at their track record of maniacal cruelity to the Greeks,Armenians, Kurds and all other minorities. Who in their right mind would be associated with them….

  3. hrair said:

    Davutoglu, Gul, Erdogan and the turkish people  should open up their archives in order to prove that crucifixions did occur during the ethinc cleansing of non turks in Asia Minor between 1894 to 1923. If my grandfather was alive he would have written a book about how  his own mother and sister were crucified before his eyes. But then again according to Arma Jane Karaer he “would have been alive because a turkish family had taken him in and taken care of them until Christian missionaries intervened .” I’m sure somewhere in the turkish archives are the reels of the movie Auction of Souls. I better be careful the Foreign service officers at the US embassy in turkey might read my comments and show proof that the genocide never occured.

  4. hrair said:

    Patriarch Bartholomew should have taken offense at the thought of being asked to move to Greece. Constantinople/Istanbul has thousands of martyred remains of Christians who have given up their lives and it’s a holier city than any turk that claims it. He should have responded by advising the occupiers of the city to move to the central asian steppes.

  5. Pingback: Turkish President Joins in Criticism of Patriarch Bartholomew … | Armenia News Station

  6. Arshag Kavafian said:

    During the 19th century it was the Great Britain which protected the dying Ottoman Empire and kept it alive until 1918. Now, they are the corrupt politicians of US Congress and the presidents who came after Reagan. I, personally, do not blame the Turks but do blame all of those who yell and shout and cry for human rights, but still kiss the asses of Turks…

  7. Aram said:

    Yes we (Armenians) are more than  frustrated, but ,do we have to be hateful too?
    Please do not respond hatefully.

  8. Susan said:

    What courage as we approach the Celebration of Jesus being born into the human world.  That courage is such a gift.  I only wish the Armenian Clergy would be as brave.

  9. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    The Armenia Catholicos should be very cautious. He has prayed for my health, I am going to pray for his wisdom and success for the benefit of the whole Armenian people.

  10. Sarkiss Rshdouno said:

    I don’t know why we r like saying “turkey” is a neighbor country!!! Just take a look and see what the heck is “still” going on with the non-turks people….
    And what a big shame on turkey, when they stood against israel during “Gaza’s” massacres on 2008/2009 and on the same time, still treat with the minorities as “second/third” class citizens….

  11. most pessimist optimist said:

    arshag kavafian said it all…
    if you want to blame someone, don’t blame the turks, but those who maintain their positions of power, (all for money of course, much like a pimp/whore, and a customer)
    and if you don’t know who they are by know, then may be i should pray for you to gain wisdom as samvel is going to pray for the armenian catholicos.

  12. Ozan Kemal Çullu said:

    Patriarch is correct about some words.I agree.Christians are second class citizens for the rulers of  Turkey.Turkey is belong to turks.This is their mind.Also you can be kurdish,bosnian,bulgarian,checen,iranian,armenian(Hemshins) etc if you are muslim you can be Turk.Other wise you are non-muslim and you are second class.This is the problem.
    Turks need to see that people is people if you they are good people.