From Today’s Zaman (Dec. 24). No statement yet on the Patriarchate’s site.
The patriarchate’s statement said: “There are similar idioms in all languages, and they are not evaluated in their narrow meanings but in their broad sense in that language. While answering questions in that regard, the patriarch obviously did not intend to imply any pressure from our government.” The statement also said that there was a need to make a public announcement about the issue because the patriarch’s words were interpreted in a way that goes beyond their meaning.
Turkish government officials continue to denounce the patriarch for his crucifixion remark:
In İzmir, speaking at a conference organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç called the patriarch’s criticism “unacceptable,” while reiterating that Turkey doesn’t consider the patriarchate to be ecumenical in line with the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which governs the status of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey.
Arınç recalled a rare meeting during which Bartholomew and leaders of the small Armenian, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic communities had lunch with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and senior ministers, including Arınç, on Büyükada, an island near mainland İstanbul.
At the meeting held in August, Erdoğan promised democratic reforms, highlighting the issue of minority rights, a key stumbling block in Turkey’s EU membership bid. Arınç said all religious leaders attending the August meeting, including Bartholomew, then stated that they enjoyed their religious rights during the AK Party government and thanked them for that. “If a speech like this is delivered four months later, then it is an unfortunate speech,” Arınç said.
The CBS interview was recorded in May, months before the Büyükada gathering.
But a number of Turkish journalists continue to defend Bartholomew and criticize the Turkish political culture. Mehmet Ali Burand in Hurriyet:
It seems we’ve been living in an underworld full of people preparing coups and conspiracies, a world of political mobs and vulgar gangs. Some may be true and some may be exaggerated accusations, but investigations and operations done in succession reveal a completely different Turkey and the presence of hundreds of hidden cells and thousands of armed people running around.
Please take a look at the latest situation:
– Even if we set aside published allegations within the frame of the Ergenekon case due to lack of evidence, those based on concrete evidence suffice. To tell the truth, people have organized themselves for a coup.
– Armed organizations have established associations that are anti-Armenian, anti-Christian and anti-Greek. That’s how Hrant Dink was murdered. Priest Santoro and others were slain because they did missionary work. And all this happened in front of the eyes of the gendarmerie or police, who just watched.
– Gangs have formed with the slogan “Our country is indivisible” and are going on manhunts in order to shoot Kurds.
– Then there are also security forces that have participated in similar events or illegal deeds. Almost every day we encounter operations or gangs in which chiefs of security forces are involved, such as the scandal over the skin of the slaughtered animals after the Feast of the Sacrifice.
– And let’s not forget to add to all that the PKK with its sub-organizations, those taking up weapons in the name of Shariah, the Taliban and al-Qaeda.