Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew praised Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his meeting with former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in March, according to recently revealed details.
Visiting Turkey to attend the Socialist International's (SI) meeting on the Arab Spring, which was held in İstanbul on March 23-24, Former Greek Prime Minister and Socialist International President Papandreou visited both Erdoğan and Bartholomew on March 22 in İstanbul.
The details of the Bartholomew-Papandreou meeting, which the Turkish media reported on Sunday, reveal that Bartholomew praised Erdoğan during the meeting. Bartholomew reportedly told Papandreou: “Thanks to the courageous governing policies of Prime Minister Erdoğan and his government, we have gotten relief on many issues. Conditions for the patriarchate [the İstanbul-based Greek Orthodox Patriarchate], Greeks and other minorities are much better than they were previously.”
Turkey was listed in a 2012 US report on religious freedoms as being among the world's worst violators of religious freedoms. The report, which was prepared by the bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), caused outrage in Turkish politics.
In a statement on March 22, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the report fails to acknowledge steps that Turkey has taken in recent years to protect religious freedoms and minority rights. “No impartial observer could take the allegations in this report, which intentionally turns a blind eye to the steps forward and the political will that has constituted the basis for the reforms, seriously,” the statement said. “This report is null and void for us,” the ministry noted in the statement.