Patriarch Kirill Meets with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

Report from the Department of External Relations, Moscow Patriarchate:

The head of the Turkish Government expressed satisfaction at Patriarch Kirill’s visit and the fact that he visited not only Istanbul but also the Turkish capital city of Ankara.

The sides noted with satisfaction the developing relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation.

Mr. Erdogan spoke about his experience of contacts with Russian leaders and the development of bilateral relations including in economy and tourism, pointing out that about three million Russian tourists had visited Turkey in the previous year alone.

His Holiness Kirill stressed that the Republic of Turkey is Russia’s friendly neighbouring country and expressed the conviction that the development of relations between Turkey, on one hand, and Russia, Ukraine and other nations nourished spiritually by the Moscow Patriarchate, on the other, may help promote not only the ‘beach’ tourism but also religious tourism involving pilgrimage and prayer. His Holiness thanked the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism for giving assistance to Russians in this respect.

Mr. Erdogan pointed to the importance of developing pilgrim tourism as well. The patriarch and the prime minister considered measures for developing further cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and Turkey in this field.

Patriarch Kirill also spoke about the great number of Russian-speaking Orthodox believers who reside in Turkey. He stressed that churches were needed to meet their religious needs. The prime minister expressed readiness to help in this matter and said that he personally was ready to deal with providing churches for Russian-speaking believers residing in Turkey.

His Holiness Kirill informed the prime minister about the work of the Interreligious Council in Russia and the Interreligious Council in the CIS and the state of Orthodox-Muslim dialogue in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church and expressed the wish that the religious factor be given a greater consideration in relations between Russia, Turkey and other countries under the spiritual care of the Russian Orthodox Church. He expressed interest in developing a dialogue of worldviews with representatives of the Turkish Islam for joint consideration of problems involved in the development of human civilization.

He also supported the initiative of Spain and Turkey to establish a global public forum ‘A Dialogue of the Civilizations’, and Mr. Erdogan expressed great satisfaction at the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for this initiative.

Both recognized as important the initiative put forward by the Russian Orthodox Churches together with several other religious leaders to set up an expert body within the UN to jointly consider and resolve conflicts linked with religious issues. The prime minister expressed the conviction that all problems affecting the role of religion in people’s life should be considered and settled jointly by religious people, not non-religious outsiders who cannot make appropriate decisions on behalf of religious leaders.

Mr. Erdogan pointed to certain similar features in the life of Russia and Turkey as in Russia the majority of the population are Christians, while in Turkey the majority are Muslims but they are both secular countries. He said there was certainly a ground for developing dialogue between traditional religions in Russia and Turkey, between the Turkish and Russian cultures.

The Turkish prime minister commended Patriarch Kirill’s efforts to promote dialogue. He also shared his own vision of the status of the Christian religious minority in Turkey.

The talk was held in an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual understanding.

Participating in the talk from the Moscow Patriarchate were Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the department for external church relations, Bishop Sergiy of Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Patriarchate administrative director, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, a DECR vice-chairman, and Rev. Igor Yakimchuk, DECR acting secretary for inter-Orthodox relations.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Well as far as the homogeneia/Phanar/GOA axis is concerned, this looks to me to be “game, set, and match,” or is it “checkmate”?

    It’s so ironic, while the GOA/Archons have been busy creating the myth of Byzantium instead of pursuing the Gospel, the Russians have been pursuing the Gospel and they may now overtake the EP and really recreate Byzantium.

  2. Dean Calvert :


    I think we just discovered the reason the EP had that pale look on his face in the picture:

    “He [Patriarch Kirill] stressed that churches were needed to meet their religious needs. The prime minister expressed readiness to help in this matter and said that he personally was ready to deal with providing churches for Russian-speaking believers residing in Turkey.”

    I guess they read my post and liked the idea of setting up new jurisdictions in Turkey. I was only kidding guys!

    I’m sure the EP is lamenting his decision not to have a meeting with Met. Jonah about now…oh well.

    “Live by the sword, die by the sword,” or as you said, “Checkmate.”

    It’s poetic justice if you ask me.

    Best Regards,

  3. Dean Calvert :

    You know…thinking a little more seriously about this…this latest action highlights what has always been true in the history of Orthodox churches. At the end of the day, this business about autocephalous churches has always been nothing more than an exercise in raw power and politics.

    Think about it: When Byzantium was ascendant (700’s and 800’s), the EP ruled supreme. When Byzantium was weak, (1200’s and later), autonomy and autocephaly was granted to several surrounding states.

    Later, when the Ottomans conquered the area, the EP was once more ascendant, and the various national churches were subsumed, re-integrated back into Constantinople. And when the Ottoman state disintegrated (1800’s and later), the EP went into another period of decline, and the surrounding national churches surfaced.

    Now, with 1000 Greeks left in C’nople, the Russian patriarch arrives and merits a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister? Notice that the ecumenical patriarchate was not even mentioned in the article? And when was the last time the EP had such a meeting? And the Prime Minister promises the Russian patriarch churches?

    Russian power is ascendant in the area – something the EP is going to have to learn to live with.

    If they have any brains at all, they will be suddenly looking for allies.

    They might want to begin by calling Syosset and apologizing. And if my read on Metropolitan Jonah is correct, he’d actually accept the phone call…

    Of course, that’s what a sane person would do.

    This keeps getting better and better.

    Who said Byzantium was dead…this is about as “byzantine” as it gets.

    Best Regards,

  4. Attention 79th Street readers:

    This is what millions in dollars of Archon/lobbying money, do nothing sincecure bureaucrats, and omogenia before Orthodoxy get you. Nothing. Absolutely Nothing.

    Enjoy your annual trip to the White House because pretty soon that is going to end. Meanwhile, keep pushing the “Green Patriarch Agenda” its sure has made things better.

  5. To some degree, demographics are destiny. You can grow by conception or conversion — ideally both. If you eschew one (for whatever reason), you had better always have lots of the other. If you are not focused on either . . . well, Luke 14:31-33 sort of says it all. If present trends continue, there probably will still be a Patriarch of Constantinople in one or two generations, but he will be Russian. Hopefully this is a wake up call to all concerned. More to the point, hopefully there will be a new focus that is “neither Jew nor Greek” (nor Russian nor even American) such that even the greatest ethnic treasures are counted as “filth” for the sake of the surpassing value of Christ.

  6. cherokee steve :

    Well, this is what happens when you want to talk about the effects on global warming on the Miss. river rather than the orthodox faith. Before you know it you lost what you had because if you will not do missions work others will do it for you — in this case the Russians.

  7. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    This is significant. It amounts to a show of strength in Constantinople’s backyard. Constantinople retains the primacy of honor but the message is clear that in terms of ecclesiastical relations with Turkey, Russian leadership is emerging and may prevail. Raw politics? Not necessarily. Moscow is very uncomfortable with Constantinople’s move towards unity with Rome. The bigger picture may be to show the world that Constantinople does not and will not speak for world Orthodoxy — at least not unilaterally.

    You see the signs all over. The Hellenism-Orthodoxy apologetic was effectively rebuffed by Chembesy, even going so far as to say the new Bishop’s panels drew their authority not from the primacy of Constantinople, but from the synods in which the Bishops serve.

    Here at home the message is keep working towards unity.

  8. It’s significant to point out that the Russian Church press made clear: no “parallel jurisdiction” invasion is in the works. Rather, the arrangement would be to canonically transfer priests from Russia, Ukraine and Moldova under the Constantinopolitan omophorion. That way they’d be priests of Consantinople, serving the faithful on Constantinople’s canonical territory.

    Nor is an ex-Soviet-descent majority in Turkey a sure sign of change in the upper ranks of the Patriarchate. Look at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whose flock for centuries is overwhelmingly Arab, and whose hierarchs for centuries are overwhelmingly Greek.

  9. Dean Calvert :



    Which release are you looking at? Is there an original document we can read which elaborates?

    None of those details is mentioned in the article above.


    Best Regards,

    Dean Calvert

  10. Good day, Dean. No Russian greetings required – but spasibo all the same 🙂

    The original is in Russian – Abp. Hilarion’s press-conference to the “Interfax” news agency from July 7:

    I’ll translate the pertinent quote:

    “Those Russian people, who now in large number visit and reside in Turkey, as well as representatives of other Orthodox peoples, such as Romanians, who are also currently present in the Turkish Republic in large numbers, could all become the flock of the Constantinopolitan Church. Today we are ready to extend cooperation to the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate in the pastoral oversight of these people; we are ready to send priests there, so that they would temporarily become clerics of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate; we are ready to render cooperation in the restoration of churches; we are ready to build new churches for our compatriots and for all Orthodox people, who should wish to pray in them.”

    This is big news, which might signal a real shift in Moscow-Constantinople relations, a move toward more brotherly connections which I’ve longed to see. Continual human interaction within a single Church, working for Christ together, gives hope not only for the lessening of Greco-Russian mistrust, but for a beginning of the reevangelization of the Near East. Not just the Russians and Greeks, but the Antiochian Church and the Georgian Church should and can join this. It’s up to us to see modern-day Turks as people to be brought to Christ, not to be defeated and expelled.

    This relates to US in a big way. If the Patriarchates come closer to harmony on their homelands, they will come closer to harmony in the “new lands” as well. Moreover, if Constantinople has a home flock to rely on, it won’t treasure its American “dependencies” as much as it does now – hence more possibilities for American unity and autocephaly.

  11. Dean Calvert :


    Wow…thanks for the translation.

    This really is a seismic shift isn’t it?

    I’ve often wondered – what is the difference between the original evangelization of that area of the world (ie from pagans to Christians) and the situation now? The only thing I can come up with is – the relentless courage and fearlessness of the evangelizers. Many of the other obstacles are similar.

    Perhaps we in America are not the only ones being “tested”. I guess the Old World patriarchates do not receive a “free pass” from God.

    In any case, from your mouth to God’s ears.

    Thank you very very much.

    Best Regards,

  12. George Michalopulos :

    Ilya, you may be right in the official sense, i.e. no “parallel jurisdiction,” but the demographic destiny of the EP will very probably be Russian. To be sure, this has not happened in Jerusalem but that is because of clever stratagems played by the EP and JP, in that they do not allow Arab men to be ordained as celibate priests. I seriously doubt that the dozen or so Russian priests sent to Istanbul will play along with this game. Unless the Turkish govt opens up the “election” of the EP to include non-Turkish citizens, then the Russian future will be inexorable. It’s just a matter of who is the last man standing.

    Plus there’s a political reality playing behind the scenes here as well: the strategic alliance between Russia and Turkey. Turkey would love to have hundreds of thousands of Russians on pligrimage to Istanbul. It behooves them to curry favor in other ways as well, in that Russia is a net exporter of energy (in fact the #1 net exporter of energy in the entire world). What’s in it for Russia? The possibility of a Russian EP will derail the current EP’s fixation on unity at all costs with Rome. Just the presence of one Russian bishop, one Russian archimandrite for that matter in Istanbul will serve notice that if Bartholomew oversteps his bounds (in America as well), then he could be deposed by the Turkish govt. At that point, it would be difficult for the the other autocephalous churches to object.

    the GOA couldn’t object because they’ve been spending decades propagating a Byzantine myth. And if the new Russian controlled EP was able to get Hagia Sophia reopened, then it’d be totally over for the homogeneia crowd.

    (As for the JP church, it is dwindling as well. This is proof that such ethnic gamesmanship will avail nothing.)

  13. George Michalopulos :

    I also noticed that in these press releases put out by Bishp Alfeyev, the EP is called the “Constantinople patriarch.” This is basically in line with what the Turkish govt believes, that he’s not “ecumenical” in the universalist sense of the word.

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