17th anniversary of the enthronement of Patriarch Bartholomew I
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) on Sunday addressed an event in the northern Greek city of Drama marking the 17th anniversary of his enthronement, where the "Primus inter pares" of the world's Orthodox Church leaders expressed bitterness over continuing problems facing the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey. Bartholomew again touched on the difficulties faced by the ancient Patriarchate in exercising its duties and in the preservation of the millennia-old Christian Orthodox heritage in the neighbouring country, an EU hopeful.
Addressing the event on Sunday evening hosted by the Bishopric of Drama and the local prefecture and municipality, the Ecumenical Patriarch pointed out that "Turkey is still searching for its identity".
"Unfortunately, we suffer the consequences of the fermentation and conflicts underway in the country, both those out in the open and those that take place unnoticed," the Ecumenical Patriarch said, before reiterating his standing support for Turkey's EU accession, despite whatever reactions expressed by a segment of the Turkish populations and certain institutions, as he said.
Bartholomew made a special reference to the Church-owned orphanage on one of the Marmara Sea islands, Büyükada or Prinkipo, the largest of the Princes Islands. The case involving the Patriarchate orphanage was recently adjudicated by the European Court of Human Rights, with a ruling handed down in favor of the Patriarchate.
The Patriarch said the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate will prefer to have the landmark building returned instead of any monetary compensation, while he also promised to seek recourse to the Turkish courts over 24 Greek Orthodox charitable estates (Vakufs) confiscated by the Turkish state in previous years.
The Patriarch on Monday was set to arrive in the western port city of Patras to attend a series of civil and Church events in his honor.