Monday, July 28, 2008

Russia and Istanbul: Uneasy Relations

The main Turkish opposition newspaper, Dzhimikhuriet (The Republic), carried an article by Deniz Berktay entitled “The Killer of Orthodoxy”, in which he severely criticises EP Patriarch Bartholomew for his interference in the internal affairs of other countries “from Cyprus to Estonia, from Jerusalem to the Ukraine”, actions that create foreign policy problems for the Turkish state. We contacted the author and asked him to explain his position.

Mr Berktay stated, “The Patriarch of Istanbul already interfered in the internal affairs of the Ukraine during the time of the so-called ‘Orange Revolution’, and he actively supported one of the factions in this domestic political affair. The Turkish state does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Well, Patriarch Bartholomew has one position, and the Turkish state has another (The patriarch is a Turkish citizen and ranks as a civil agent: ND). If he is a member of international political association, he can support any particular political group that he wishes as a member of that organisation. However, in the Ukraine, he deals directly with the leadership of the state; therefore, he must represent the Turkish state. But, this counts as foreign policy activity, which can lead to a quarrel with Russia, the Ukraine, and with other states. This is inadmissible. Even now, our embassies and consulates are being picketed.

On the other hand, if Turkish religious or public organisations were to interfere in the internal affairs of other states, causing conflicts in those countries, then, it is only fair that foreign organisations could interfere in our internal affairs, something that no one wants at all. We observe the freedom of conscience, of course, but, we would like your Orthodox patriarch to consult with Turkish leaders first [before acting]”.

Source: Voices From Russia

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