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Europe - Turkey - Christianity - Orthodox

Turkey cancels Istanbul visit of Greek-Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos
("New Anatolian," August 18, 2007)

Ankara, Turkey - Turkey has cancelled the visit of Greek-Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos to Istanbul to meet Patriarch Bartholomew I between August 17 and 21 for the second time in two months.

The Turkish government reportedly cancelled the strictly religious visit for the first time in May. At the time the authorities justified their action saying that it might have political consequences on the electoral campaign.

Greek sources in Turkey say the latest decision is worrying minority communities very much since outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a strong supporter of Turkey's membership in the European Union and hence a guarantor of religious minority rights in the country, won a victory in the July elections.

Chrysostomos also announced that he would meet the ecumenical patriarch at another time and place to express his "solidarity" and thank him "for his contribution to solving some of the many problems that have risen within the Greek-Orthodox Church."

Chrysostomos reiterated that there "are no differences between Greek-Orthodox [Cypriots] and their Muslim Turkish-Cypriot brothers." He claimed the real problem lies "in Ankara's meddling which has blocked every attempt to integrate the two communities on the basis of mutual respect."