Turkish envoy meets Armenian religious leader in Germany

Turkish envoy meets Armenian religious leader in Germany

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish envoy meets Armenian religious leader in Germany

Archbishop Karekin Bekjian (L) talks to Ambassador Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu.

An Armenian religious leader living in Germany, Archbishop Karekin Bekjian, says he has been visited by Turkey’s ambassador to Germany regarding his candidacy to become the next patriarch of Turkey’s Armenians.

Bekjian said he had spoken to Ambassador Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu regarding his candidacy.
“He asked questions about my patriarchal candidacy. In previous months, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who also visited Germany, wanted to pay a visit, but we could not hold the meeting due to some other pre-scheduled activities,” Bekjian recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

 Bekjian is seen as one of the strongest candidates for the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey. Current Patriarch Mesrop II cannot perform his duties due to a disease called frontal lobe dementia.

Even though the Armenian community wishes to choose its own patriarch by holding an election, Turkey’s Interior Ministry appointed an acting patriarch, Aram Ateşyan, two years ago – marking a first in the patriarchate’s history.

Bekjian said he informed Karslıoğlu about the 40,000 Armenians who have migrated to Germany from Turkey.

The archbishop also expressed his appreciation for Ankara’s decision last month to return the Surp Haç (Holy Cross) Tıbrevank religious school – which is now serving as a high school – to the Armenian community. Surp Haç Tıbrevank’s clerical school was shut down in 1940 and then lost its foundation status in 1985. Bekjian was one of the last teachers to serve in the school.

Asked if he considered the ambassador’s visit a “political step,” Bekjian said no political matters were spoken of during the visit.

“The Armenian community is accepted as a religious minority in Turkey and the institution that leads the community is the patriarchate; they are in charge of these matters,” he said.

Bekjian said the ambassador had told him that the Turkish state was responsible for all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

 “We have to admit the reality that world has changed. There are some painful matters, everyone has things to tell. We have to keep an eye on the next generations. Oriental Churches are the ones closest to the origins of Christianity; you experience this richness and this belongs to all of us,” Karslıoğlu reportedly told Bekjian.