Controversy Over Turkish Treatment of Minorities On Eve of EU Talks

December 3, 2004

Source: The Fresno Bee

Wire Service: AP

On December 3, 2004 the Associated Press reported, "A furor in Turkey ignited by the title of a Christian spiritual leader on a U.S. embassy invitation has underscored concerns about the largely Muslim country's treatment of minorities two weeks before the European Union decides whether to open membership talks with Ankara. The problem revolved around the status of the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, a Turkish citizen and ethnic Greek. He is considered 'first among equals' of the world's Orthodox patriarchs and directly controls several Greek Orthodox Churches around the world. But Turkey has long refused to accept any international role for the patriarch and rejects his use of the title 'ecumenical,' or universal. It argues the patriarch is merely spiritual leader of Istanbul's dwindling Orthodox community of less than 3,000."