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‘ARMENIAN COMMUNITY OF CONSTANTINOPLE IS DISTRUSTFUL OF THEIR COMPATRIOTS IN ARMENIA’

Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople States in a Turkish Paper

It seems that Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Mesrop II Mutafian, is getting into the habit of ascribing his own opinion to the Armenian community and making grim conclusions and prognosis in Turkish printed media. Still in mid-June when Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II was getting ready for Istanbul visit, he suggested Turkish papers that “the Armenian community of Constantinople thinks that the Supreme Patriarch does not know the proper place for his statements,” thus trying to forecast “possible unrest during his visit” and to let the world know about the Armenian community’s “concern.”

Patriarch Mutafian’s gloomy forecast did not though hit the target. According to Armenian press of Istanbul, the community not only warmly welcomed His Holiness and enjoyed his presence but also was surprised at Mesrop Mutafian’s conclusion that “some fears in the community came true.” The Armenian community strongly criticized Patriarch Mutafian “for casting shadow on the Catholicos’s visit” and emphasized: “When His Holiness was still in Istanbul, in his interview with Hurriyet Patriarch Mutafian showed that he can hardly follow a logic worthy a religious leader.”

It was the interview with Sefa Kaplan published on June 28 in Hurriyet that Patriarch Mutafian provided “clarification” to the Catholicos’s press conference. In August 6 issue of Hurriyet answering the question of the same correspondent, the Patriarch made public his attitude to his compatriots in Armenia not forgetting to speak for the whole community.

Asked by Kaplan “what kind of relations do you have with your compatriots in Armenia? Do they turn to you with requests?”, Patriarch Mutafian answers: “Two-three years ago they used to turn to us for money. Seeing that they were in desperate need we would help them paying for their ticket to Armenia. Then we saw that they return to Istanbul from Samsun or Trapizon but do not return to Armenia. That’s why we decided not to fund anymore. But the church still remains a meeting place for the latter. On Sundays Surp Astvatsatsin church is full of Armenians speaking Eastern Armenian. The Ethiopians and Africa-born Armenians also come. So when preaching you may think that people do not understand you.”

Asked “what’s the education level of those people”, the Patriarch says: “Almost all of them are university graduates but they found no jobs at home. There are even doctors among them who attend patients at home but earn more than in Armenia.”

Answering a question about the relations between the Turks and the Armenians of Armenia, Patriarch Mutafian says: “Relations are rather good. I think if there were exchange programs of students, intellectuals, artists and media representatives, Turkey-Armenia relations would improve.”

The most exciting in the interview were perhaps the last two questions. The correspondent asked: “Are there cases when the Armenian residents turn to you complaining of bad treatment?”, to which the Patriarch answers: “As far as I know, they get along very well, and there were even marriages with the Turks.”

Asked “if the local Armenian community is worried because of the Armenian residents”, the Patriarch says: “Unfortunately, there is more distrust than worry towards them. The local community is slow to trust those people for unknown reasons. There is a firm opinion in the community that they are ‘untrustworthy and do not keep their word’. This is an inglorious phenomenon.”

Firstly, it should be said that not all job seekers in Turkey are university graduates. The Patriarch simply lies fanning the fires of those who want to see Armenia ruined. As to the community, if they really consider their compatriots in Armenia untrustworthy, then it goes against the Patriarch’s words that the Armenians get along with the Turks and even marry them.

If Patriarch Mutafian ascribes distrust to the Armenian community, then he carelessly sticks a label of untrustworthy on the Turks who trust the Armenian residents to the extent of marrying them. In this case the Armenian community of Constantinople takes the stance of distrust to Turks because of its Patriarch’s wishful thinking.

It’s obvious that in order to “get well along with the Armenians” the Turks have to be at least equally bad, therefore the Patriarch’s suspicion towards his countryman should refer to Turks as well. We can only remind him the inscription that Lraber, the patriarchy’s newspaper, carries: “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.”

By Hakob Chakrian

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