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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05ISTANBUL1960 2005-11-16 12:45:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Istanbul
Cable title:  

ARMENIAN ARCHBISHOP ON KATHOLIKOS VISIT

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHUM PINR AM 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L ISTANBUL 001960 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR AM
SUBJECT: ARMENIAN ARCHBISHOP ON KATHOLIKOS VISIT

REF: 04 ISTANBUL 798

Classified By: Consul General Deborah K. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).



1. (C) Summary: New York-based Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
of the Armenian Church of America told CG November 9 Armenian
Katholikos Karekin II of Echmiadzin is considering a visit to
Turkey next year, adding that he had received positive
reactions from both Turkish diplomats in New York and
Armenian officials in Yerevan. Barsamian noted he had not
raised the visit with Istanbul-based Armenian Patriarch
Mesrob II. End summary.



2. (C) Visit on the horizon: Archbishop Barsamian, in town
for an interfaith conference organized by the Appeal of
Conscience (septel), told CG November 9 Armenian Katholikos
Karekin II of Echmiadzin was contemplating a 2006 visit to
Turkey. Barsamian added the visit might include tours to Ani
and Akdamar Island outside Van, and indicated he had received
positive reactions about the proposed trip from both Turkish
diplomats in New York and Armenian officials during his
recent visit to Yerevan. Armenian Defense Minister Serzh
Sargsyan reportedly told Barsamian he would be interested in
accompanying the Katholikos.



3. (C) Not fully on board?: When CG asked about
Istanbul-based Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II's views on the
proposed visit, Barsamian indicated that he had not raised
the visit with Mesrob, implying he did not want to intrude on
his jurisdiction. He said an invitation to the Katholikos
had originally come from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
after Bartholomew's 2001 visit to Armenia, not from Mesrob.
Barsamian had been with Mesrob at a November 8 dinner hosted
by the Appeal conference, but had not shared with Mesrob his
plans to visit the U.S. Consulate to discuss the Katholikos'
proposed visit. (Bio note: Barsamian suggested he had had
something of a mentor relationship with Mesrob when the
latter was a student in Nashville although the two were not
far apart in years; his expression suggested they may have a
somewhat tendentious relationship. End note.)



4. (C) Looking forward: Barsamian is upbeat about recent
developments in Turkey. He said he told U.S.-based press
following the September Armenian conference at Bilgi
University that the conference was a positive step. "We must
be looking forward, not backward," he told us, attributing
his lack of bitterness to his grandmother, who maintained a
focus on education and progress despite her male family
members being "taken away" from their home in Malatya when
she was 18. (Comment: To this CG commented that his views
about the futility of a negative focus were not far from
Hrant Dink's, a point with which he did not disagree. End
comment.)



5. (C) Comment: A visit from the Katholikos may ruffle some
nationalistic feathers here, but in light of a more open
environment in 2005, we see no reason to discourage it. It
will not move the ball forward on opening the border or
diplomatic relations, but a successful trip could represent
yet another step in the long process of breaking taboos and
rebuilding relationships. End comment.
JONES