Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu received two prominent figures of the Armenian church, the Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey announced, though most media outlets did not report on this rare meeting.
Khajag Barsamian, the Armenian Apostolic Church's legate in the Vatican, and Aram Ateşyan, acting Armenian Patriarch in Turkey, accompanied by Shahe Ananyan, director of ecumenical relations at the Armenian Apostolic Church, met with Çavuşoğlu in the capital Ankara on Monday, the patriarchate said in a statement on its website.
"The minister told guests in a meeting, which lasted for about one hour of sincere dialogue, that the Turkish state was looking into the patriarch election issue and following the developments and urged patience for reaching a solution," the statement said.
The election of a new patriarch to replace Ateşyan has been a thorny issue for Turkey's ancient Armenian community. Ateşyan was serving as "acting" patriarch, a post his critics say "does not exist" under church rules, since Patriarch Mesrob II went into a coma in 2008 due to an illness. The community sought authorization from Turkish authorities for a new election as Turkish laws require.
Speaking to the Agos weekly yesterday, Barsamian said the meeting with Çavuşoğlu was suggested by Karekin II, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. "This should not be viewed as an intervention in the process in Turkey but rather something to contribute to it," Barsamian said. He said their meeting with Çavuşoğlu was "very warm," and the minister told them it was "an internal matter" for the Armenian community but that the state was also eager to see an election take place, urging patience for the process to conclude.