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ANKARA: Turkish Armenian Community Facing Uncertainty With Resignati

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  • ANKARA: Turkish Armenian Community Facing Uncertainty With Resignati


    Hurriyet Daily News
    Nov 29 2010

    The administration of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey has been
    thrown into uncertainty following a decision by the institution's
    financial board to resign en masse due to differences of opinion with
    the acting patriarch.

    "It has never been like this in the whole history of the patriarchate,"
    Melkon Karaköse, a key figure in the community and most important
    person on the financial board, told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic
    Review last week. "We [Turkish Armenians] are at the risk of losing our
    integrity and unity as a society and we are passing through extremely
    dark times."

    The board chose to resign following problems with Archbishop Aram
    AteŇ~_yan, who was made acting patriarch by the Interior Ministry after
    the Armenian community failed to select a new patriarch after current
    Patriarch Mesrop II was diagnosed with frontal dementia two years ago,
    leaving him unable to fulfill his duties. Under the Armenian Aposolic
    Church's cannon law, a new patriarch cannot be selected until the
    previous one has died.

    Although the financial board was previously necessary to facilitate
    the community's commercial matters, the power now solely rests in
    the acting patriarch's hands.

    "The financial board fell into bad terms with Archbishop AteŇ~_yan and
    decided to resign. I told them that if they quit, I would quit as well
    because it was impossible for me to take such great responsibility
    on my shoulders," Karaköse said.

    "AteŇ~_yan is an honest man, but he needs to take measures today in
    order to prevent being taken to account tomorrow, or else he will
    suffer greatly," Karaköse said, adding that the community should
    have been allowed to elect a new patriarch, rather than trying to
    cope with the substitute system.

    The resignation of the financial board, which has helped handle
    the Armenian community's commercial matters for the past 550 years,
    has left the community in a difficult position as financial dealings
    have required the signature of one cleric and one layperson to become
    valid as part of a tradition dating back to Ottoman times.

    "When I did not sign a document, all the financial conducts of the
    patriarchate used to come to a hiatus," said Karaköse, who has been
    the layperson responsible for signing off on the documents for many
    years. "I sued to sign all the documents on behalf of the community,
    and the reason why a civil signature is required together with that
    of the clergy is to overcome possible acts of bribery."

    Karaköse has served in the patriarchate's top positions for the past
    30 years and has been considered the right-hand man of the last three
    patriarchs, including Mesrop II.

    From: A. Papazian