Office of the Spokesman
December 5, 2005
Question Taken at December 5, 2005 Daily Press Briefing
Turkey: Ecumenical Patriarch (Taken Question)
Released on December 5, 2005
QUESTION: What is the U.S. government view on the status and standing of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Turkey?
- The U.S. considers Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to be a religious leader of global standing.
- The U.S. takes very seriously the issue of religious freedom in Turkey, as illustrated in the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report. Among specific concerns highlighted in the report are issues related to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including the reopening of the Halki Seminary, as well as issues related to other religious minorities in Turkey.
- The U.S. has consistently raised our concerns regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate with Turkish authorities at the highest levels for many years. President Bush urged the re-opening of Halki Seminary in his June meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan. Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes also discussed this issue with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during her visit to Istanbul in September.