ISTANBUL (Lraper Bulletin - 11/02/2005) - His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey, received on 10 February 2005, Thursday afternoon, His Excellency Sebastian L. Brugo Marco, Ambassador of Argentina in Ankara. During the cordial meeting, which lasted about an hour, the Patriarch and the Ambassador exchanged information about the Armenian communities in Turkey and Argentina. Ambassador Marco related that there are quite a number of prominent Armenians in the higher echelons of public life, including the army, commercial and cultural life in Argentina. He also noted that he had served in Turkey thirty years ago as a diplomat and had made a personal acquaintance with Patriarch Shnorhk of blessed memory (1961-1991), who had later visited the Armenian community in Argentina. The Ambassador then concerned himself about the Armenian community and its problems today, and what the Patriarchal See thought about the accession of Turkey into the European Union and also the the tragic events ninety years ago. Patriarch Mesrob replied that compared to the Armenian community of thirty years ago, today's community numbers less, that is to say, from about 60,000 to 70,000 souls, who are more assimilated into Turkish society. About one-third of the community speaks Armenian today, and only about one of every thirty people reads a local Armenian paper. For the community to preserve its heritage, faith and culture, it is of vital importance that facilities are created for the training of priests for the churches, and teachers of Armenian language and religious education for the Armenian minority schools. The foundations that belong to the community should also enjoy equal opportunity with the Muslim and secular foundations in order for the churches, schools, the Armenian hospital, the associations and other community organisations to be provided with the necessary financial assistance. For all of this to be realised, the Patriarch said that it is necessary that the laws, regulations and directoria governing the life of the minorities in Turkey be upgraded. "This is one of the reasons why the Patriarchal See considers it important that Turkey becomes an EU member" Patriarch Mesrob said. "No one with a conscience can deny what occurred ninety years ago," continued the Patriarch, "However, Turks and Armenians must find a way to reconcile and to live side by side peacefully as neighbours. There is no other alternative. To block the future of young people on both sides would be another historic mistake!" he concluded. Thanking the Patriarch for the open exchange of views, the Ambassador signed the book of honour and took leave of the Patriarch, with hopes of meeting again in the near future. Argentine Foreign Minister His Excellency Rafael Bielsa is expected to pay an official visit to Turkey at the end of March 2005.