11/03/2007, 00.00
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Ankara gives glimmer of hope for rights of Ecumenical Patriarchate

Bartholomew has ended a second round of meetings with government ministers. Positive comments in diplomatic circles, even if it is feared that a concrete solution to the question will be put off indefinitely.

Ankara (AsiaNews) –The Turkish government appears willing to open up to finding a solution to the insistent problem of minority rights, in particular regarding the Ecumenical Patriarch, although it may be too early for any celebrations.  These were the conclusions drawn by the Patriarch Bartholomew at the end of a second round of meetings in Ankara with Foreign minister, Ali Babacan (see photo), Education minister Huseyn Celik, Justice minister, Ali Sahin, and State minister, Besir Atalay, all of whom are directly involved in the issue of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and minorities in general.

In the meetings, Bartholomew put forward the issue of the properties contested by the Patriarchate, the restitution of 24 foundations abusively occupied and the properties of the Orthodox minority, as well as the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki. The ecumenical patriarch has explicitly sought the minister’s aid in resolving these difficult questions.  Faced with objections based on so-called constitutional impediments, Bartholomew pointed out that the foundations of minority property are protected by the Lausanne treaty and that they cannot be given over to Ottoman foundations that were regulated by the Turkish State.

For their part, the ministers have assured their desire to find a solution to all of the pending questions, because, they maintained that the minorities who have been on Turkish soil for centuries are part of the wealth and multi cultural inheritance of the nation.

Positive comments in diplomatic circles accompanied these meetings. It was however noticed that the governments goodwill to resolve the minorities issues is not what is under discussion, rather the pressure for a “Deep sense of State” (trends in the administration, economics and the military), as an excuse to put off indefinably a solution to these problems.  While certainly the worsening situation with the Kurds and the subsequent re-emergence of Turkish nationalism doesn’t help. (NT)

PHOTO: Nikos Manginas


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