CULTURE

NY’s Mayor Bloomberg visits the Patriarchate

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was warmly welcomed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul’s Phanar district, in the presence of a large crowd of guests, Greeks and Turks, as well as diplomats from several countries, on Saturday, September 21. The official welcome had been preceded by a private meeting between the two officials (see photograph), when Bloomberg had the opportunity to praise the patriarch’s initiatives on environmental issues and particularly the Interdenominational Dialogue. This was a courtesy visit but nevertheless important, judging from the statements made by both men and by the fact that it was scheduled right after Bloomberg’s visit to Athens. The mayor was accompanied by his daughter Emma Bloomberg, who is also one of his associates at City Hall. At the reception were Diaspora Greek officials, mayors from Cappadocia, journalists and business representatives. Istanbul Mayor Ali Mufit Curtuna, who could not be present, sent a warm message of greetings to the foreign guest. At a dinner Curtuna gave later for Bloomberg at the Four Seasons Hotel, the latter had the opportunity to view the imposing basilica of Hagia Sophia. The schedule also included a visit to the town hall, the Hagia Sophia museum, the Blue Mosque and ended with a dinner given by businessman Rahmi Koc on the shores of the Golden Horn at the museum which bears his name. Before leaving the legendary city, Bloomberg made this statement: «The ecumenical patriarch is not only the leader of the Orthodox Church but a person who has made considerable efforts to bring the different religions together so that people can understand each other and co-exist. It is just what the world needs.»