ISTANBUL–Airport officials in Turkey stopped the country’s Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian II–from boarding a plane to Van Thursday morning–to attend a pilgrimage dedicated to the 1000th anniversary of prominent Armenian poet Krikor Naregatsi–reported the Istanbul-based Armenian language Marmara Daily.
A travel agency had been hired to organize arrangemen’s for the large group of local and international travelers attending the pilgrimage–and the Patriarch’s booking was confirmed with a Turkish Airline. As a result–appointmen’s between the Patriarch and the governor and officials of Van had also been confirmed.
Arriving at the Yeshil village airport–the Patriarch was told that there were no seats for him on the flight to Van; he was later told that he could sit in the 27th row. The Patriarch–donning official vestmen’s–refused the offer–saying that he would be filing an official compliant with appropriate government officials.
"You can complain where you like–but we have no information concerning your travel," he was told–and was offered a seat on a later flight to Van–by way of Ankara–and informed he needed to purchase a new ticket. He declined–and angrily left the airport–knowing that he would miss the pilgrimage.
The Patriarchate representative told Marmara that this is the second time the Patriarch’s travel to Van has been obstructed–and said that the Patriarch is curious whether his presence in Van causes discomfort to some.
Numerous Armenia’s from throughout Europe–the Middle East–Armenia and the US did manage to make it to the pilgrimage.
The Patriarch said that he is saddened by this new stalemate in religious and cultural cooperation.
Earlier this week the Patriarch was assured by the Chairman of Turkey’s Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission Mehmet Elkatmis–that the country was working on resolving the problems certain religious communities and social groups–and that it was the government and parliament’s duty to do so.