Binali Yıldırım, a former Turkish prime minister and the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate for İstanbul, has deleted a tweet in which he referred to Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew as “ecumenical” several minutes after posting it due to criticism, Turkish media reports said on Tuesday.
Turkey does not officially recognize the ecumenical title for the Greek patriarch.
Yıldırım tweeted, “I congratulate İstanbul Greek Orthodox Patriarchate ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew on the occasion of his name day and wish him a long and healthy life.”
June 11 is marked as the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, the saint’s day of the patriarch.
Yıldırım deleted this tweet apparently because of criticism from opposition party deputies who asked how a former prime minister and former parliament speaker could use a title for Bartholomew that is not recognized by Turkey.
In a second tweet, Yıldırım omitted the word “ecumenical” for the Greek patriarch.
Turkey has been refusing to recognize the title “Ecumenical Patriarch” or Bartholomew’s role as an international religious leader. Officially, he is viewed as a local bishop who leads a shrinking community of a few thousand Greek Orthodox citizens in the country.
Yıldırım will run in a repeat election in İstanbul on June 23. He lost the election against opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu on March 31. The results of the March 31 election in İstanbul were cancelled by the country’s election authority on May 6 due to objections from the AKP.