Istanbul (ANA – A. Kourkoulas).- In a bitter recrimination against the injustices inflicted on Turkey’s Christian minorities, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Friday warned Turkish authorities that the changes in the country must be more than skin-deep if it wanted to become part of Europe.
“If we really want to become Europeans, we must change our attitudes, not just make some reforms and pass a few new laws that are sometimes implemented and sometimes not,” he stressed.
“We must radically change the way we think, and this is what the Europeans are telling us,” he added.
The Patriarch made the statements during the scheduled opening of a summer camp for children organised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose opening had been so delayed by the failure of Turkish authorities to push through the necessary paperwork that parents had taken their children back home.
“We are declaring the start of the Paidopolis, even though only symbolically, because our children’s camp is opening without our children. And this is due to the hard-heartedness of certain state services, who made sure that it delayed using various ways and means, and each time found some excuse to prevaricate,” Bartholomew said, pointing out that July had already passed.
The Patriarch also spoke bitterly of the way that Turkish authorities handled the Patriarchate’s institutions and property, and the fact that the Turkish State had refused to re-open the School of Theology on Halki, which has now been closed for 34 years.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate has never intended to create problems for the State and our government. But, on the other hand, it demands its rights from the State and does not allow the State to press, repress and be unjust to its citizens, to its own citizens. We are not strangers in this land,” he stressed.