Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   17 January

‘We want to elect out Patriarch’ – Turkey MP Garo Paylan slams Ateshyan as ‘enforcer’

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 14, ARMENPRESS. Ethnic Armenian MP of Turkey Garo Paylan has opposed the Turkish government’s decision on reaffirming Archbishop Ateshyan as the General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul.

“Intrigues were used to appoint an enforcer in the Armenian Patriarchate. But we do not accept this enforcer. We want to elect our patriarch”, Paylan said.

Earlier the Istanbul government refused to recognize Archbishop Garegin Bekchyan as the elected locum tenens.

After the announcement, the Religious Assembly of the Patriarchate reaffirmed Ateshyan as General Vicar.

Archbishop Garegin Bekchian, whom Turkish authorities refused to recognize as elected patriarchal locum tenens of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, released a letter before leaving Turkey, Agos reports.

“After serving abroad for more than 50 years, the reason of me coming to Turkey was to end the transition period which was lasting for 9 years. I thought it would be enough to proceed with faith and conscience in this matter, in order for our church and people to achieve success in the patriarchal election. Only now I understand how wrong I was”, Bekchian said in the letter.

He said that after assuming tenure he faced a shocking reality. “Most important being that from the very first day it was clear that the election process will not be able to be advanced transparently, under fair election rules. I don’t think it’s necessary to mention all examples. I neither want to remember nor remind those sad and sorrowing examples”, he said.

“The recent developments are not a consequence of one day. It is so unfortunate that his process, the target of which was seemingly I, was aimed to sabotage the 85th patriarchal elections, this was a result of a long lasting and planned campaign, which began from the very first day that I was elected as locum tenens”, he said, adding that he fears that all of this can even more divide the Armenian community.

The Archbishop mentioned that particularly after the letter from the interior ministry he is forced to leave Istanbul, and stressed that he isn’t a conflicting man by nature.

“My presence should not anyhow cause more damage to the Armenian community which already suffered damage”, he added.

“I decided to leave the country with a goal to begin a new service in the upcoming period, praying for my brother Archbishop Mesrop Mutafyan, who is ill for a long time, his dear mother Mary Mutafyan and you – my dear spiritual brothers”, Bekchian said in the letter.

The Patriarchal seat was declared vacant in 2016 due to the health condition of Patriarch Mutafyan. In March of 2017, Bekchyan was elected patriarchal locum tenens after arriving to Istanbul.

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