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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.

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