On 20 June 2006, Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians departed for
During this first visit to
First day of the visit
Upon arrival at the Istanbul airport in the evening of 20th June 2006, Karekin II was greeted by Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, two metropolitan archbishops representing the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate and representatives of the Armenian community of Istanbul (see below Turkish press reports on nationalist extremists protesting in the Airport and obliging the guests to take another way out of the airport, under tight security measures).
During the official reception and dinner at the Armenian Patriarchate on the same evening, Patriarch Mutafian greeted the Catholicos of All Armenians and welcomed him and his accompanying clergymen to
Second day of the visit
In the morning of 21 June 2006, Karekin II visited the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and participated in Morning Services at the Greek Mother Cathedral. His Holiness noted, “…Our predecessors [Karekin I] of blessed memory have visited Your All Holiness and your revered predecessors. We visit a Church, with whom we have shared a history of accomplishments and achievements, persecutions, suffering and martyrdom, prayer and witness, and which is alive in our hearts and minds today”.
In his remarks, Karekin II recalled the historic visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to
At the conclusion of the official reception, a personal meeting occurred between the two delegations, whereupon general inter-church and specifically Armenian and Greek relations were discussed.
Remaining days of the visit
On 22 June 2006 Catholicos Karekin II, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian visited
The metropolitan abbot of the monastery stated that the visit of Catholicos Karekin II was a visible manifestation of the warm relations between the Greek and Armenian communities of
In the afternoon, the entourage traveled to Kinali, an island with a high Armenian population, and visited the Armenian church of
On the same day Karekin II visited the Mother Cathedral of St. Asdvadzadzin (Holy Mother of God) in Kumkapi,
Karekin II made the following remarks:
“Five Patriarchs of Constantinople were called to become Catholicos of All Armenians. Only after kneeling down before this Holy Altar and asking for the intercession of the Holy Mother of God on behalf of the Armenian nation, did they depart to sit on the Throne of the Illuminator. In difficult times, our luminous and brave-hearted Pontiffs protected our people and kept them gathered around Holy Etchmiadzin with the hope and belief in salvation. And now from the Throne of the Illuminator ? the holy cradle of our faith ? Holy Etchmiadzin, we have come to see you. We have come so that Pontiff and flock can be united once again with the same oath of our holy fathers.
Connected with the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople are the brightest achievements of our culture ? in literature, art, music and architecture…
It is with these emotions that we have come to visit you, to see our ancient, incense-filled churches, which remain vibrant through your presence. We came to see our educational and cultural institutions, which continue to remain alight through your vigilant efforts.
We have brought the greetings from your brothers and sisters in
At the conclusion of the service Bishop Aram Ateshian, a member of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, was elevated to the rank of ?Archbishop? by His Holiness Karekin II.
Visit to other Armenian churches and institutions
Visit to other Armenian churches and institutions
On 23 June 2006 Catholicos Karekin II visited the
Karekin II spoke to the 400 students, as well as the teachers, administrators and hundreds of faithful, emphasizing the important role that the Armenians of Istanbul have played in the life of the nation for more than 500 years, noting that they have brought honor to the Armenian people through their spiritual and cultural activities.
The entourage next traveled to the
In the hospital?s chapel, His Holiness presided during a requiem service offered in memory of all past benefactors of the institution. Karekin II made a tour of the hospital?s museum.
In the afternoon Catholicos Karekin II visited the
Visit to the Governor of
On the same day (23 June 2006) His Holiness Karekin II visited Mr. Muammer G?ler, Governor of Istanbul, at the governor?s office. The Catholicos of All Armenians expressed his happiness to be in
In his remarks, His Holiness Karekin II stated his awareness of the achievements of the Armenian community of
Governor G?ler welcomed the visit of the Pontiff of All Armenians to
Press conference in
Karekin II: Genocide is not a matter for debate
On Sunday, June 25, following a Pontifical Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Asdvadzadzin of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, participated in a press conference organized on the occasion of his visit to Istanbul (see complete text of the press conference at the end of this article).
Present for the press conference were both Armenian and Turkish journalists. During the conference, a number of questions were asked regarding the pontifical and inter-church visit of His Holiness.
In response to a question by a Turkish journalist regarding the Genocide of the Armenians, the Catholicos of All Armenians stated, “The Armenian Genocide is a reality that happened and can never be an item for debate”. Regarding a follow-up question about how relations between the Armenian and Turkish peoples could be improved, the Pontiff of All Armenians stressed the necessity for the Republic of Turkey to come to terms with its past and recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Responding to another question regarding the convening of conferences about the events that occurred in the final days of the
End of the Pontifical visit to
Catholicos Karekin II returned to Etchmiadzin in the early morning hours of 28 June 2006. The 7 day visit included a two day fraternal visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch, followed by five days with the Armenian community of
Although His Holiness' flight arrived in
The Pontiff of All Armenians stated with contentment that the Armenian community of
In reply to the concerns about the prospect that His Holiness? statements on the Armenian Genocide could negatively affect the attitude of the Turkish authorities towards the Armenians of Turkey, the Catholicos stated, “We do not believe that our thoughts and words can affect the attitude of the authorities towards our Armenians in Istanbul, because we never expressed hatred or enmity, we simply stated the reality and the truth. Taking into account the process of democratization, which the Turkish authorities desire to achieve in their country, we also do not believe that extremist nationalistic forces will succeed in sowing hatred and enmity toward the Armenians or other minorities living in
His Holiness continued, stating that as many countries have recognized the Genocide of the Armenians, so too must
Regarding the protests that had been organized in
Excerpts from the Turkish press
Armenian Spiritual Leader in
Head of the
Karekin II, who traveled from Erivan on Armenian Airlines, was expected to leave the airport via the VIP Hall at
Bartolomeos meets head of Armenian Orthodox Church
By Turkish Daily News, 22 June 2006
Greek Patriarch Bartholomew I urged the world's Orthodox churches to minimize differences and seek solidarity, as he met with the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church yesterday in
Karekin II arrived in
Police tightened security to protect the visiting cleric from Turkish nationalists who protested his arrival on Tuesday night, prompting the police to accompany Karekin II out of the airport through a separate entrance.
Karekin II has angered Turks by saying their ancestors committed genocide against Armenians around the time of World War I, an allegation vehemently denied by
By Turkish Daily News, 26 June 2006
The head of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Karekin II, yesterday led a Sunday service at the Armenian Patriarchal church in
Karekin blessed worshippers yesterday of the Armenian community in Istanbul who formed a long queue at the church in the Kumkapı district, following the three-hour Divine Liturgy or Holy Mass (Soorp Badarak), which is the main service in the Armenian church on Sundays, starting at 10:30 a.m.
High security precautions were taken near the church, the
On Thursday, a group led by Kemal Kerin?siz, president of the Turkish Lawyers' Union – which describes itself as a ?nationalist? organization – protested Karekin II during his visit to the currently closed Heybeliada (Halki) Greek Orthodox Seminary.
26 June 2006
Rightwing Jurists Union members lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz and have staged an attack on an old woman during the visit of head of the
Lawyer Kerin?siz and friends are a unique group of fierce nationalists who fight against liberal reforms along
Attempting to stage a protest against Karekin II, the group of nationalists attacked the unidentified woman in front of witnesses when she verbally objected to their presence and said “don?t disturb us, just go”.
Witnesses of the incident said the person in the group who hit the woman on her face was Muammer Kocadagli who was briefly detained and released after opening a protest placard near the Aya Triada Monastry. Police on the scene detained one suspect and escorted the woman to safety.
Police on the island had to barricade the roads from the Heybeliada port to the Clergy school when the group attempted to march there. Attorney Kerincsiz, who?s acts at court against Turkish intellectuals and freedom of expression defendants have reached aggressive proportions, told the police if they were not allowed to march, he would go to the school using a horse coach. The police told him to go to Buyukada where he could travel in a coach.
The first visit to
At the airport Karekin II was greeted by dozens of protestors waving Turkish flags and boasting a banner “We won't let any Christian clergyman into our homeland!” Police had to intervene and escorted the cleric out of the terminal using another door after detaining four protestors.
Armenian Patriarch Karekin II defends Armenian claims in
By Melike Duransoy
Journal of Turkish Weekly, 27 June 2006
Karekin II, currently on a visit to
Speaking at a press conference after conducting a mass in an Armenian church in Istanbul, Karekin II said the allegations of genocide against the Ottoman Empire?s Armenian community had been studied for 90 years by academics and there is no for any discussion or any more study on the issue.
“For our people the genocide is not an issue of research,” he said. “This is an incident that has happened and it has to be recognized.”
Karekin II said that
In response to
Turkish experts however argue that Karekin II is lucky because he was speaking in a 'democratic country'[!]. Dr. Nilgun Gulcan for instance told the JTW that no Turkish could defend Turkish perspective in
According to Dr. Sedat laciner from Ankara-based Turkish think tank USAK, the Armenian approach regarding the past is “shut-up-and-accept-it” policy. “They do not listen to what you say. They try to order Turkish people to accept what they think. This is not the best way to develop any co-operation” Dr. Laciner says.
Patriarch Mesrob II: I do not agree with Karekin II's comments
By Hurriyet, 28 June 2006
Patriach Mesrob II, the leader of the Armenian Orthodox community in
Karekin II held a press conference at the Armenian Patriarchate on Sunday during which he called on
Responding to reporters' questions about what he thought of Karekin II's statements about genocide, Mesrob II said: “How can I comment on those statements? I guess I could say they were as I expected they would be. At the press conference at which Karekin II spoke, TV cameras from the Armenian station Shoghagat were present. All of the Diaspora watches Shoghagat TV. So Karekin knew the public he was addressing with his comments. I think differently on the matter, as I have said many times in the past. The disaster of 1915 should be examined on separate platforms by politicians, historians, diplomats, and sociologists. This would be very helpful in terms of creating empathy and understanding, rather than enmity.”
Official English Transcript of the Press Conference by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians at the Armenian Patriarchate of
25 June 2006
The moderator of the press conference was Ms. Luiz Bakar, spokesman for the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. His Beatitude Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of
His Beatitude Mesrob Mutafian: Welcome, dear friends. His Holiness has allocated one half hour from his itinerary for today to be with you. He is here on a pontifical visit upon the joint invitation of the Greek Patriarch and the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. He will be with us until June 27. Prior to his visit, a number of strange news stories appeared in various media and news outlets, which caused us amazement. The articles had stated that the Armenian community and the Patriarchate were anxious with this visit; however there was no such unease in the community. Up until this point, the visit has been progressing as planned. The first two days of the visit, the Catholicos was the guest of the Greek Patriarch, according to their itinerary; thereafter we visited Armenian churches and the sites and museums of
Question: Your Holiness, you are here as the guest of the Greek Patriarch. He is making efforts directed at bringing the two Churches closer. What is your opinion on this and what will be the steps you implement?
His Holiness Karekin II: We are visiting
Question: During your meeting with the Governor of Istanbul, you stated that you are pleased with the regular (airline) flights between
His Holiness Karekin II: We expressed our satisfaction that Yerevan-Istanbul flights occur regularly. As you are aware, our country ? the
Question: As you just mentioned, the issue of the Genocide exists between
His Holiness Karekin II: We are one people; dispersed throughout the world. However, we are a people that have statehood. And naturally, the
If academic conferences in
Question: During his meeting with the governor of
His Holiness Karekin II: During our conversation with the governor, we have said that we are pleased, that in the life of ethnic and religious minorities, as it relates to the
Question: The Catholicos stated that the two states must discuss the issue of the Genocide. However in recent times, discussions were held in
His Holiness Karekin II: Genocide against any nation is not limited to the life or borders of one people. Genocide does not recognize ethnicity. Genocide envelopes all of mankind. And for that reason, when similar actions are being committed in any corner of the world, states and nations raise their voices in condemnation, to prevent similar incidents in the life of mankind. Only in this manner will it be possible to keep mankind free from similar tragedies.
Regarding the first part of the question, that should only
Question: The Catholicos says that the issue of the Genocide for Armenian society is not one that needs research, rather it is reality. Does this position not obstruct the resolution of this issue, perhaps, since the Turkish side continues to deny the Genocide? In other words, is it not possible to study the Genocide?
His Holiness Karekin II: Obviously, if
Question: What do you propose as a way of resolving this issue?
His Holiness Karekin II: We believe that as many states and countries have done,
Question: You say that to keep humanity free from the repetition of similar sorrows, that they must be studied and accepted. But have you ever made a statement regarding the events taking place in
His Holiness Karekin II: We as a Church, express our voice of indignation on every occasion when a hand is raised against the greatest treasure of God?s creation ? human life.
Question: You visited the seminary on the
His Holiness Karekin II: I am pleased with the process of democratization which is taking place today in the
Question: Did you like
His Holiness Karekin II: We have not had the opportunity to see
Question: There is a report that you desired to pray when at the Hagia Sophia, but were prohibited from doing so.
His Holiness Karekin II: We are not aware of any such occurrence.
Question: From the first day of your visit, there have been protest demonstrations. What do you think about this?
His Holiness Karekin II: The protest demonstrations in no way affected neither our mood nor our mission. We would prefer that there be no place for similar demonstrations in the relationship between our two peoples. We are destined to live side by side as neighbors, and therefore it is necessary to cultivate, educate and nurture appropriate relationships between neighboring peoples. I am convinced that in my next trip, we won?t see similar demonstrations or expressions. And even if there are protests such as these, we must understand that we still have work to do, both of us together, to exclude similar occurrences.
Question: During the Eurovision competition,
His Holiness Karekin II: We see nothing negative in this.
Question: Is this perhaps a step forward on the part of
His Holiness Karekin II: Of course, it is a step, which must be positively assessed. God willing, that this positive course leads us to the resolution of the fundamental issue.
Question: Although your visit was not ?official? in nature, you were received by the governor of
His Holiness Karekin II: We recognize our meeting with the governor as a display of his appreciation for the Armenian community, and their important contributions and service to the life of Turkish society. We have not had nor do we have any objections to meeting with any state official, whether the suggestion is made by our community or by any other entity. There was the concept, at one time, to organize a meeting with the religious leader of
We express our thanks for this meeting and for such an open discussion. We wish you all the best.
END OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE TEXT
First raw from left to right: Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Catholicos Karekin II, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
Second raw: high ranking clergies of the Armenian Church.
Catholicos Karekin II (left) and Archbishop Mutafian (right)