NEWS

Greece garners Patriarchate support

Greece is launching a diplomatic publicity campaign to inform the European Union and foreign governments about the problems faced by the Christian Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, the Foreign Ministry revealed yesterday. Spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis had sent a letter to EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn outlining the difficulties faced by the Patriarchate because of challenges to its authority by the Turkish government. Greek embassies abroad have also been told to write to the governments in the countries where they are based to inform them of the Patriarchate’s plight. «The issue of the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not just concern Greece and Turkey, it is a wider matter that is relevant to Europe and the international community,» said Koumoutsakos, indicating that Greece was looking to take the «initiative» over the Patriarchate’s status. Bakoyannis is also intending to brief her EU counterparts on the matter when the foreign ministers of the 27-nation bloc meet in Brussels on Monday for the General Affairs and External Relations (GAERC) Council. Diplomatic sources said Greece feels that Ankara’s stance toward the Patriarchate has become much tougher in recent weeks, probably due to upcoming elections in Turkey this Sunday. Authorities in Istanbul canceled at the last minute last Saturday a concert to be held in the city that was organized by the Patriarchate and would have featured popular Greek singer Giorgos Dalaras.