ISTANBUL—Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) demanded from his legislative colleagues an explanation for the government’s continued interference and delays in the election of the next Istanbul Patriarch.
In his remarks in parliament, Paylan said that he has written to Turkey’s Interior minister Süleyman Soylu, asking about the reasons for the Turkish government’s intervention in the elections of the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul.
“Armenian Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan has not been able to perform his duties for nine years because of illness. To start the process of election of a new Patriarch, clergymen of the Armenian Patriarchate elected Karekin Bekdjian as Locum Tenens,” Paylan noted.
He also briefed parliament that the Patriarchate had also sent a note to the Ministry of Interior through the Istanbul Governor’s Office. “No response has been received, although the two-round elections were planned to be held on December 10 and 13,” he added.
The lawmaker cited media reports claiming that Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin does not recognize Archbishop Bekdjian as Locum Tenens and offers to choose between the two other church leaders in Istanbul.
Paylan voiced the concerns of the Armenian community connected with the continuing prolongation of the process and the government’s intervention “in the organization of the election, which the Armenian community has the right to.”
Paylan then asked to clarify the grounds for the government’s intervention in the process, and asked for explanation of the reasons for the delay. He then demanded clarification about when the “government intends to stop creating obstacles in the organization of the Patriarchal election.”