ISTANBUL (05/02/2005) – His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of
Istanbul and All Turkey, received His Excellency Mr. Jean-Louis Debré,
President of the French National Assembly, on 4 February 2005, Friday,
19:30 hours, in the audience room of the Armenian Patriarchate,
Turkey. Accompanying the President were the leaders of the French
and Mr. Jean-Christophe Peaucelle, the French Consul General in
The Patriarch greeted Mr. Debré as follows: “It is indeed a great
pleasure to receive in our Patriarchate the President of the French
Assembly. As one of the four hierarchical sees of the worldwide
Church, the Patriarchal See of Istanbul, continues to be a witness to
Christian Armenian heritage, faith and culture since the year 1461.
Our Patriarchate’s ties with the Republic of France are close. In fact,
last Cilician Armenian King, Leo VI Lusignan, is buried in the
St. Denis in Paris. Most of the Armenians living in France today also
their family roots in Anatolia.
Anatolia became the stage for tragic events ninety years ago. It is a
that hundreds of thousands of Armenian citizens lost their lives, and
Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire, only a small proportion was
from extinction. Not only were lives lost, but also a local culture was
uprooted from its natural milieu.
Both Turks and Armenians must now face their common history and must
forward to a peaceful coexistence in the present and future world. God
brought together the Turkish and Armenian peoples within the same
geographical area, as very close neighbours, and even as members
of the same family, whether in Anatolia or in the Caucasus. All those
concerned need to understand that there is no alternative but to live
peace and tolerance with each other, and to expend every effort in this
This is why, together with all the other non-Moslem minorities in
our Patriarchal See and the Turkish Armenian community support the
of Turkey into the European Union. As citizens of Turkey we support
process, since all the laws of our country will thus be upgraded; as
non-Moslem minorities we support the process, since it will give us
opportunity before the law; as people of Armenian descent we support
process, because it might bring the long-awaited peace not only between
Turkey and Armenia, but also amongst all countries in the region.
It is with these sentiments, that I welcome you once again, reminded of
words of the Gospel: ‘Peace on earth and good will amongst men of good
Thanking the Patriarch for his welcoming remarks, Mr. Debré replied
French delegation was interested in whether Moslems and non-Moslems
equal opportunity in Turkey, which aspires to become an EU member.
the non-Moslem clerics trained? Do ethno-religious minorities, and also
minorities not covered by the Lausanne Treaty, enjoy cultural
Are human rights respected, including those of women, children and the
minorities? How do the people of Turkey regard the non-Moslems within
without Turkey? These, Mr. Debré said, were the issues European
parliamentarians were preoccupied with.
Patriarch Mesrob replied that the majority of Turkish citizens support
membership of Turkey into the EU, knowing well that such an integration
presupposes much change in mentality and the legal system. Many
reforms have been passed through the Turkish National Assembly and once
full implementation is realised undoubtedly many changes will occur in
country. “These are our thoughts and expectations,” the Patriarch said.
Mr. Debré, whose visit lasted about 45 minutes, thanked the Patriarch
his reception, signed the book of honour and took leave of the
See together with the other members of the French National Assembly.