Tensions over the election of a new head of the Armenian patriarch remain high among Turkey's Armenian community. Some community members are considering taking to the streets to call for an election as the post has remained empty for more than seven years with Patriarch Mesrob II remaining in intensive care due to illness.
Tatyos Bebek, an Armenian opinion leader siding with those seeking election, said they were fed up with the absence of a permanent patriarch and would stage protests in the coming days.
Archbishop Aram Ateşyan is the acting head of the patriarchate but the community has repeatedly called for the election of a new patriarch. Ateşyan had reportedly pledged that an election would be held last year, though the council of bishops failed to reach a consensus on an election.
Bebek says that Ateşyan was preparing new regulations for the patriarchate that would grant him a larger authority and exerted pressure on members of the synod not to approve an election. He said a democratic election is needed and having an acting head in the patriarchate was unacceptable. He also called on the state to intervene in the issue. "We are not left with many options. We didn't seek protests but this is the only way for now," he said. He said the patriarchate and foundations were unable to function due to the lack of an elected patriarch, noting that both institutions were a "lifeline for the Armenian community."
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