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PATRIARCH WRITES TO EU PARLIAMENTARIANS AND MINISTERS
The spiritual leader of the largest non-Muslim minority community in Turkey, His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey, wrote a letter to the German political leaders Gerhard Schroeder and Angela Merkel in support of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
The letter was sent just before the foreign ministers of the 25 EU nations hold emergency talks this weekend aimed at overcoming objections to starting entry talks with Turkey. Patriarch Mesrob II also wrote to 732 EU parliamentarians and the ministers of the EU nations.
The Armenian, Jewish, Syriac, Levantine, Greek, Chaldean and Protestan communities have displayed a strong desire for Turkey’s becoming an EU member.
The Patriarch’s letter has the following content:
“As the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey, and as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, I begin my letter by expressing the wish that your work may bring peace, happiness, and all good things to all of the citizens of your country.
“At this important juncture in human history, you are one of those political leaders who will play a major role in not only your country’s future but also that of the European Union and hence of the world. In this regard you are indeed shouldering an important task in a “project of civilization and peace”, the like of which has not been seen in European Union or world history. The success of this project to a large degree depends on your decisions and leadership.
“In these days, when we hear talk of a “clash of civilizations” between West and East, between the Christian world and the Muslim world, and when we see how terrorism has greatly damaged peace between civilizations, the basic aim of the European Union to try to cultivate the “reconciliation of civilizations” and a multi-cultural society is something that especially we Eastern Christians passionately desire and nurture with great hope.
“We Eastern Christians bear the full witness of this effort, for we have been living in the Muslim world for centuries. The depth of the resulting experience constitutes a significant opportunity for Western Christians, who have newly begun to live together with Muslims and to experience this multi-cultural life-style. What we have undergone has provided a fund of wisdom that can provide clues as to what should be done and what should be avoided.
“These experiences tell us that the entry of Turkey, which is largely Muslim in population, into the European Union is vital from the standpoint of world peace. The aspiration of Turkey to join European Union is an opportunity not only for Turkey and the European Union but for world peace that must not be lost.
“We are aware that Turkey will have to pass difficult tests as part of the entry process. But it is clear that for world peace, these tests are necessary and unavoidable. We think that in this trial you, as a Western peacemaker, must help us. Pressure in recent days from various circles to postpone Turkey’s membership process cause us concern. We perceive such affairs as being far from helpful.
“In the European Union harmonization process Turkey has expended great effort to implement the union criteria and has in a positive sense been steered toward real change on the democratic road. However, because of oppositionist and suspicious attitudes directed toward Turkey, it seems as though it is being forced to take backward steps and turn in on itself. Such undesired developments will be a blow not only to Turkey and Europe but to reconciliation between West and East.
“It is now our supreme hope that the European debates on Turkey will shortly end with positive results, and that the attitude opposing Turkey will soon enter a more rational phase.
“We pray for the success of the European Union’s civilization and peace project and that our country, Turkey, and that the Armenian Christians who constitute the largest non-Muslim religious community in Turkey whom I represent, may take their place within it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God!” declared the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are all living at a period in time when we could all perhaps make an extra effort to do as Christ says, for a better future and for a more livable world.
“With my deep respect and best wishes for your success,
“Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey”