Σάββατο, 13 Δεκεμβρίου 2008

New minorities report limits status of Patriarch

New minorities report limits status of Patriarch
ANKARA - The minority population of Turkey as defined by the 1923 Lausanne Treaty stands at a diminished 89,000, according to a new report by the Foreign Ministry and submitted to Parliament. The report, which the Daily News learned of Friday, was submitted to the Parliament’s Human Rights Commission in November. In addition to confirming the decline of the country's main non-Muslim communities, the report also reasserted limits on the controversial term "ecumenical" for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate headquartered in Istanbul. For centuries, the Istanbul patriarch was regarded as titular leader of all Orthodox Christians, or "ecumenical," a status still acknowledged internationally. But the new reports reasserts that the Lausanne accord which ended Turkey's War of Independence, converted the patriarch's status to only that of local community leader. According to the treaty, Turkey granted specific rights of worship and education to non-Muslim citizens of Greek or Armenian origin and to Jewish citizens. Some groups, notably Syriac Christians in Turkey, rejected the designation of minority and remain outside the regulations of the statute. The report said, "Just to meet the religious and spiritual needs of the Greek Orthodox population in Istanbul, the Patriarchate is allowed to maintain a presence in the city." Nevertheless, Patriarch Bartholomeus uses the title "Ecumenical," during his foreign visits and has not been prevented from using this title in Turkey.

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