Garo Paylan Says He Will Do Everything to Prevent Turkish Authorities from Meddling in Patriarchal Elections
BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
ISTANBUL—Apparently the self-proclaimed Vicar-General of the Istanbul Patriarchate Archbishop Aram Ateshian’s announcement last month that he would step down from the now-defunct post was nothing more than a deceptions since the cleric with ties to the Turkish government never resigned.
On Wednesday, head of the Spiritual Council of the Patriarchate Bishop Sahak Mashalian told Agos that the council voted 22 to 2 to strip Ateshian of his powers, which were technically nullified when Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian was elected http://asbarez.com/161254/istanbul-patriarchate-locum-tenens-elected-amid-government-interference/ Locum Tenens of the Patriarchate during a Clerical Assembly meeting on March 15.
As recently as Saturday, Ateshian told Bekdjian that he did not intend to relinquish his powers, further adding to the rift created by his adamant refusal to follow the rules, becoming an obstacle to the election process for a new patriarch to replace the outgoing Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, whose illness left a void at the top of the Patriarchate.
During his tenure as vicar-general, Ateshian was known to be colluding with local and federal government officials, the latest incident occurring during the March 15 meeting when only after not being elected Locum Tenens—Patriarchal alternate—he produced a letter from the Istanbul Governor, which deemed the entire patriarchal election process illegal.
In the past he has thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan after he released a “condolence message” to the Armenian people on April 24—an affront to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), in an interview with tert.am last week expressed his vote of no-confidence in Ateshian, saying that whoever occupies the Patriarchal seat must be able to represent the Armenian community of Turkey to the entire.
“I believe that Archbishop Aram [Ateshian] did not do that in the past couple of years,” said Paylan.
“He [Ateshian] made so many mistakes that no one in the community wants to vote for him. He continues to ‘sit in that chair’ since he knows full-well that he does have a chance to win in the elections,” said Paylan.
He added that the Turkish government appointed Ateshian as vicar-general “but we didn’t want him,” adding that the government will stop at nothing to affect the Patriarchal Elections.
“I will personal do everything in my power to not allow the Turkish authorities to meddle in the organization of the Patriarchal Elections,” said Paylan.