The Turkish Interior Ministry’s meddling in the election of a new Armenian patriarch may lead to the end of the İstanbul Armenian Patriarchate, Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has said, the Arab News website reported.
The ministry has set the condition that candidates must be based in Turkey, sparking criticism by many, seeing it as interference in the spiritual functioning of the patriarchate.
The legal condition decreased the number of candidates from 12 to just two who meet the requirement. The election will therefore be between two İstanbul-based Armenian clergymen, Aram Ateşyan and Sahak Mashalyan.
“This restriction may lead to the end of the İstanbul Armenian Patriarchate because we may find no candidate in the next election,” Paylan said.
Paylan considered the attempt an intervention in the Armenian community’s own religious freedoms.
“It is totally unjust. Religion requires conscience and justice,” he said.
Many Armenian clerics from around the world could have competed in previous patriarchal elections in Turkey.