Tsipras visits Istanbul Patriarchate for first time as Greek PM

Tsipras visits Istanbul Patriarchate for first time as Greek PM

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Tsipras visits Istanbul Patriarchate for first time as Greek PM

Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I (L) introduces metropolitans to Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (2nd L) during their meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Alexis Tsipras paid a visit to Istanbul’s Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate for the first time as Greek prime minister on Nov. 18.

The 41-year-old leader met with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based leader of Orthodox Christians, at the Patriarchate’s administrative building in Istanbul’s historic Fener neighborhood.

Speaking to the press after the hour-long meeting, Bartholomew I said they discussed the ongoing refugee crisis as well as the institution’s relations with Greece and interreligious dialogue.

“[Tsipras] has now visited us three times and we met also in Athens. We know each other very well. I wish him success on his difficult task,” he said.

Tsipras is in Turkey for a two-day visit to discuss measures to deal with the refugee crisis among other issues.

More than 150,000 migrants and refugees crossed from Turkey to Greece last month, compared with more than 8,500 in October 2014, according to the EU’s border agency Frontex.

EU leaders have agreed to discuss a 3 billion-euro ($3.23 billion) deal with Turkey for refugee support and to try to stem the tide of people fleeing the Syrian conflict.

According to official figures, Turkey has so far spent $8 billion on accommodating around 2.5 million refugees it hosts inside the country.

Tsipras arrived in Istanbul on the evening of Nov. 17 evening, watching the friendly football match between Turkey and Greece in the stadium alongside Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. 

The Greek prime minister is also expected to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit, as well as other political party leaders in the country.