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ASIA/TURKEY - New deadlock in process to elect Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople

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Posted on: 09/16/17

Istanbul – The process to elect a new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople is again at a stage of stalemate, due to episodes of silent boycotting on the part of Turkish institutions as well as persisting divisions registered within the Armenian community.
Since the election last year 15 August 2016 of Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian as Patriarch locum tenens to replace Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, and following the constitution of a work group to promote the electoral process, official letters sent by the Armenian Patriarchate to the Turkish authorities asking for procedures for the election of the Patriarch to be resumed, remain unanswered. Bagrat Estukian, head of the Armenian section of the bilingual Armenian newspaper Agos published in Istanbul – told Armeniapress that the Armenian Patriarchate had received no invitation to take part in official Victory commemoration acts on 30 August attended by all the other Churches and religious communities in Turkey. In the Armenian community this non invitation was seen as a sign of aversion towards the present locum tenens of the Patriarchate. Furthermore Estukian highlighted the negative role played by leading members of the Armenian community eager to be accredited as “intermediaries” between the community and the Turkish authorities, boasting high level connections with national institutions.
According to rumours made public by Agos itself, certain persons selected by Archbishop Bekchyan were not welcomed by the Turkish political and institutional apparatus. Furthermore the present difficulties are said to be connected with the attitude of supporters of former locum tenens Aram Ateshyan calling for the resignation of Bekdjian and the work-group and backed from within the Turkish institutions.
The last agreements regarding procedures to follow in view of the election of a successor to Mesrob II Mutafyan - young go-ahead Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople incapacitated by an incurable disease since 2008 – was reached between leading members of the Patriarchate during a meeting convoked in Erevan, at the Patriarchal See of Echmiadzin by Patriarch Karekin II, Catholicos of all Armenians, 23 and 24 February. .


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