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Plot against the ecumenical Patriarch foiled

ICC Note: Plot to kill Christian leaders foiled, but especially alarming as would-be assassins are ex-army officers with weapons that appear to originate from official Army sources.

8/1/07 Turkey (AsiaNews) – A group of ex army officers, now retired, plotted to assassinate the ecumenical Patriarch: this is what has emerged from an investigation carried out by Istanbul ’s public attorney’s office, and brought to light by a report in Aksam newspaper. The group known as the Association of National Forces was led by Bekir Ozturk: the hard drive of his computer revealed the entire project which also consisted of the assassination of the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob and of a Jewish businessman.

This network of retired army officials are believed to be in contact with diverse well rooted nationalist groups on Turkish soil. What is of even graver concern is the fact that arms in their possession seem to originate from Army deposits. According to media and diplomatic sources this only further underlines the deep ties between nationalist activists and institutions linked to the State, thus forming the so-called “ Shadow State ”.

These worries are amplified by the recent entrance into parliament of the nationalist MHP party (which includes the grey wolves) in national elections, and their strengthening of the opposition, until now represented by the Kemalist CHP party.

On the subject of the recent elections, observers have not failed to comment on Erdogan’s reshuffling of his government in favour of right wing candidates over liberals. A fact that led to his landslide victory in the centre east of the country. Some recall an interview he gave in 1998, when he was on the verge of forming his party, in which he said: “my aim is to unite my party base with the nationalists”, in short uniting political Islam with nationalism, legitimized by the journey towards European Union membership, with the country’s obvious economic development as the winning factor, which also brought election victory as proven by Kodan poll agency, the only one to have correctly gauged pre-election forecasts.

In the area of religious policies, the Greek foreign minister Dora Bakojiannis has informed her EU colleagues in Brussels of the continuous difficulties faced by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Following her meeting with the President of the European Peoples Party, Martens, a statement was released criticizing the Turkish Supreme Court ruling which contests the ecumenical nature of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Moreover, Interfax news agency reports that the Moscow Church , has taken advantage of the Greek foreign minister’s initiative to contest Constantinople ’s primacy among the Orthodox, while sharing in the Patriarch of Constantinople’s difficulties. In short, the word in Brussels is that Turkish Nationalists have found an unlikely ally in the ambitions of the Moscow Church . The reaction of Fr. Dositheos, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is calm and meaningful: “The Ecumenical Patriarchate was not born as a national Church, but as a point of reference for the ancient Christian world according to the apostolic and patristic tradition, it is universally accepted and has as its basic precept love in Christ”. (NT)