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Turkish Extremists Are Targeting Christian Minority Leaders
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Athens, 15.02.2007 - The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew became number one target for Turkish nationalists, reports Kathimerini newspaper quoting one of the U.S. strategic centers. The same information is furnished by Milliyet Turkish newspaper in the article titled “Patriarchs under threat of death.” The NTV says that Istanbul's Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan’s life is also in danger, reports Yerkir online.

According to Kathimerini, Western diplomats, who are very carefully watching what is happening in Turkey at this time, are intensely concerned about the security for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and also for the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul Mesrob II Mutafyan. According to their assessments, part of the Turkish deep state has turn self-determining over the past two years and is operating beyond control. "These people, most of whom are retired officers from the army and the security forces, have in their mind a paranoid image of Turkey being partitioned. They believe they are functioning under revolutionary conditions and that they are constantly justified in giving order for assassinations," commented an experienced US analyst, who added, "It is clear that there is a plan to assassinate the Representatives of various minorities."

Already, in recent weeks, the Turkish security forces have received much disquieting information regarding a possible assassination attempt against the Armenian Patriarch, who outraged nationalist circles with his New Year's speech, in which he dared to refer to the genocide of the Armenians, which is traditionally a taboo subject in Turkey.

The Turkish services have taken additional security measures for the Armenian religious leader. Western sources, who are well informed on what is happening in Turkey, consider that, despite all this, the number one target for the nationalist circles is the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Phanar, the administrative centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate more generally. "The hatred these circles harbor for the Patriarchate runs very deep, indeed it is exacerbated by the importance the White House attributes to the Phanar, as also the European governments do," commented a Western diplomat, adding "they are perfectly well aware that an action against the Phanar would create enormous problems for Turkey's international relations and possibly even for their aim."

Washington has on occasions, through informal channels, conveyed to Ankara its concerns over security for the world leader of Christian Orthodoxy and has asked that additional measures be taken for his protection. US officials, who study carefully everything happening in Turkey, express the opinion that the security forces are exceptionally infiltrated by the "long arm" of the deep state, as was evident by the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. "The foot dragging by the intelligence gathering services in the Istanbul police and also -- even more so -- the photo of policemen with the murderer amongst them as a hero, show that there are obscure links," stress western officials, who expressed their certainty that the Erdogan administration has lost control.

The same officials pointed out that "when we talk of a threat against the Patriarch, we are not referring to the Gray Wolves and their constant, loud demonstrations against him. We are talking of paramilitary nuclei which cunningly use young people as assassins. This is what happened with Dink, the same with the Catholic priest Andoro in Trebizond. In order for anyone to reach from the young assassin to the head, one must past through three or four links, who are careful to eliminate any of their traces. These are hard core, well organized gangs, covered up by high ranking officers in the security services," Kathimerini reports.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the world leader of Orthodox Christians. His authority and prestige derives from the times of the Eastern Roman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople, the New Rome, a city founded by St. Constantine the Great, the first Roman Emperor to allow the free worship of Christians, untill then persecuted by the Roman state authorities. Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan is one of the three major Armenian patriarchs.

The Greek and Armenian Patriarchs were once the leaders of Turkey's thriving and populous Christian minorities of Greeks and Armenians respectively. But their number diminished to almost extinction as a result of a deliberate Ottoman and Turkish state policy to wip out Turkey of its Christian minorities. It has thus been estimated that in the years marking the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the emergence of the Turkish state more than 3.5 million Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians were massacred by the regimes of the Young Turks and of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) in what has been called the Christian Holocaust and seen as the predecessor to the Jewish Holocaust.

To this day Turkey ostensibly denies the genocide of its Christian minorities, despite calls from the European Union and the governements of France and Greece that the recognition of these genocides is an indispensable moral condition for Turkish eventual accession to the EU club.

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