The main newspaper of the Turkish opposition, 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]”.
25 July 2008
Novaya Demokratiya (New Democracy) (a Ukrainian newspaper)
Quoted in Interfax-Religion
There is something that Bart does not wish to talk about. He is not only bound by the Holy Canons, the EP is bound by the strictures of the Treaty of Lausanne. For example, the Patriarch of Istanbul must be a Turkish citizen, and he receives certain privileges from the Turkish state. If he violates the conditions of this treaty, the Turks have the right to boot him from the Phanar. Apparently, he is working very hard at getting on the wrong side of the Turks (not a wise move, that) and he is doing so on several, not just one, fronts.
In short, Bart is not the “Beneficent Oz, the Great and all-Powerful” that he claims he is. He is, rather, a pathetic little Balkan ecclesial princeling with an overactive streak of ambition. Oh, by the way, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.