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Istanbul’s Armenians Take Issue of Electing New Patriarch to the Courts

The civil hearings of the lawsuit launched by lawyers from Istanbul’s Armenian community vs. the Turkish state were held in Istanbul on Sept. 29.

As reported by the Epress.am correspondent in Istanbul, the case refers to the elections of the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul). Due to the current Patriarch’s poor health, the Armenian community wanted to elect a new Patriarch. Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Mesrob Mutafyan has been suffering from dementia for several years and is unable to perform his duties.

In 2 years, the Armenian community gathered 6,000 signatures, appealing to Turkish authorities to organize elections for a new patriarch — which apparently they are able to do, according to Ottoman rules dating from 1863.

The Turkish state denied this request, stating that as long as Mesrob II remains alive, a new patriarch cannot be elected.

As a result, the Patriarchate electoral committee decided to take the issue to court to assert their right to elect a new patriarch. The first hearings took place yesterday with the presence of several Armenian attorneys. Spokesperson for the attorneys Sebuh Aslangil said that’s a pity that they are forced to take the issue up in court but the community needs to elect a new patriarch.

The committee of Armenian attorneys have declared that they’re against Turkey’s intervention. They are currently awaiting the court’s ruling.