Amid his busy routine, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received Bartholomew I, the head of Fener Greek Orthodox patriarch who is viewed as the faithful spiritual leader of Orthodox churches both in Turkey and abroad. The two held a closed meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara while no official statement was made on the topics discussed at the meeting.
Media outlets reported that the patriarch and Erdoğan would discuss the state of refugees in Turkey and interfaith dialogue, though this is not confirmed. The meeting also takes place five days after the patriarchate's synod in Istanbul where the Orthodox clergy decided to "coordinate with sister Orthodox churches" on bestowing autocephaly or a type of independence for bishops to rule their own church, for "Ukrainian Orthodox Nation." Russian clergy and Istanbul-based patriarchate vie for control of Ukrainian Orthodox churches, a delicate matter for Turkey which maintains close relations both with Ukraine and Russia. Russian media outlets have reported that Ankara may act as a mediator in the crisis.
The patriarchate, in its self-appointed ecumenical status, has been based in Istanbul since the times of the Byzantine Empire that collapsed after the Ottoman conquest of the city.