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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09ISTANBUL432 2009-11-24 07:52:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Istanbul
Cable title:  

READOUT ON ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH'S "SUCCESSFUL"

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE GR TU 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000432 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE GR TU
SUBJECT: READOUT ON ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH'S "SUCCESSFUL"
U.S. TRIP

REF: A. ISTANBUL 243

B. ISTANBUL 405

Classified By: Consul General Sharon A. Wiener for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).



1. (C) Summary. A close advisor who accompanied the
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on his October 20 - November
6 trip to the United States provided us with a debriefing of
the trip in which the Patriarch attended an environmental
symposium, held services in New York and Washington D.C. and
met with leading political figures. Meetings with President
Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Clinton touched on
the importance of reopening Halki Seminary, succession,
environmental concerns, and the inherent political interest
involved in the rebuilding of a relationship between the
Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox
Church. POTUS committed to broaching the issues of
patriarchal succession and Halki with Prime Minister Erdogan
during a bilateral meeting on December 7. The Patriarch was
enthusiastically greeted by thousands at several large
gatherings during his trip, and his U.S. - based spokesperson
explained that the Patriarchate and American Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese also tweeted and Facebooked on the Patriarch's
activities throughout his trip, receiving over 37,000 hits
from followers. The Patriarch expressed his gratitude in
person to the Consul General for his positive experiences in
the United States. End Summary.



2. (SBU) In speaking to the Consul General, the Patriarch
dubbed a success his October 20-November 6 visit to the
United States to attend an environmental symposium in New
Orleans, conduct services for American Greek Orthodox and
others, and hold official meetings in Atlanta, New York, and
Washington DC. This was his second substantial visit to the
U.S. during his 18 year tenure as Ecumenical Patriarch. (His
last substantial visit to the United States was in 1997.)
American Diocese spokesperson for the Patriarch during his
travels, Father Mark Ayer, said the Patriarch went to the
U.S. with two objectives: promoting environmental awareness
and representing the interests of his flock by furthering
relationships with heads of state. (Note: The Patriarch was
christened the "Green Patriarch" by Al Gore while in the
United States in 1997.) Ayer said that the Patriarch was
very impressed with the level of awareness on Greek Orthodox
issues that he observed in his meetings with President Obama,
Secretary Clinton, and especially Vice President Biden. The
Patriarch expressed his gratitude personally to the Consul
General on November 8 "for all that he experienced during his
long sojourn to the U.S." where two million followers of
Orthodoxy reside.

Outreach


--------------------------





3. (SBU) While the Patriarch as a rule does not grant
interviews, Ayer explained that as a favor to ethnic Turkish
and Coca Cola CEO Muhtar Kent in Atlanta, the Patriarch
conducted an hour long interview aired on the Charlie Rose
Show. The Patriarchate and American Archdiocese also reached
out with social media and tweeted and Facebooked on the
Patriarch's activities throughout his trip, receiving over
37,000 hits from followers. However, Ayer also noted that it
was difficult to sell the Patriarch's visit to news outlets
given the small number of Greek Orthodox in the United
States.

Meetings in the U.S.


--------------------------





4. (C) In addition to meeting with the Greek and Turkish
ambassadors to the United States, and the President, Vice
President and Secretary, the Patriarch met with UN Secretary
General Ban-ki Moon, Brookings Institute president Strobe
Talbot, and former President Clinton. He also met with
Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid. Substantive
meetings with the President, Vice President, and Secretary
touched on the importance of reopening Halki Seminary,
succession, environmental concerns, and the inherent
political interest involved in the rebuilding of a
relationship between the Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Church and
Russian Orthodox Church. Ayer noted that Russian Orthodox
Patriarch Kirill (Ref A) is only slightly lower in political
power and importance than Putin, but far more important than
Medvedev, making the Russian Church a crucial element in the

ISTANBUL 00000432 002 OF 002


Russian political objective of solidifying control in the
Former Soviet Union, "just as Constantine utilized
Christianity."



5. (C) The Patriarch invited Fetullah Gulen to join an
interfaith lunch in New York, including representatives from
the Abrahamic religions (Ref B). Gulen did not attend, but
twenty children attending Gulen-sponsored schools arrived at
the event bearing flowers. However, Ayer cryptically noted
that although he attended all official meetings with the
Patriarch, the Patriarch might have met with Gulen
independently.

Comment and Recommendation


--------------------------





6. (C) Following their meeting on November 3, Ayer confirmed
that POTUS committed to broaching the issues of patriarchal
succession and Halki with Prime Minister Erdogan during a
bilateral meeting on December 7. Septels will address the
Turkish concerns with the reopening of Halki, the role of
Halki in the Patriarchate, as well as the question of
patriarchal succession.



7. (C) The Patriarch's successful substantive meetings
throughout his trip further emphasized his well-respected
role as a conscientious religious leader dedicated to
unifying humanity around common areas of concern. In moving
forward on the issue of Halki seminary, however, the
Patriarch may need to pursue additional dialogue with the
GOT. It is our understanding that the Patriarch has not met
with senior representatives of the GOT in the last six years
to discuss viable solutions in any detail for the reopening
of Halki. The President's discussion with PM Erdogan would
be more productive if, prior to the discussion, the Patriarch
were to engage with the GOT to address the details for what
they seek on Halki. This differs from the Patriarch's
current strategy of waiting for the GOT to come to him with
their proposal.
WIENER