Patriarch blesses Greek diplomat-artist’s Exhibition
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I said late Wednesday
that he is the staunchest supporter of peace and rapprochement between
Aegean neighbors Turkey and Greece.
“I pray for friendship between Turkey and Greece. I am the strongest
supporter of their peace and rapprochement,” Bartholomew said. His
remarks came at the opening of a photography exhibition, dubbed “The
Children of Lausanne,” by Greek diplomat Stratos Efthymiou, who has been
working as second secretary at the Greek Embassy in Ankara since 2007.
The patriarch’s “remarks reflect his blessing for this exhibition,” said
a patriarchate official. Analysts said Bartholomew’s comments aimed to
defend Efthimiou and the Greek Embassy in Ankara against potential
criticism by some circles in Greece, where the plight of exchanged
persons in the wake of World War I is still a sensitive and contentious
Greek Ambassador to Ankara Fothis Xidas said Greece and Turkey wanted
the development of their ties at a time of “a positive wind” between the
Bulent Tanik, the mayor of Ankara’s Çankaya district from the main
opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, who hosted the exhibition,
said the “the photos here will enrich the friendly atmosphere” between
Turkey and Greece.
“It’s very important to develop brotherly connections between Turkey and
Greece,” Tanik said.
Efthymiou said that with his exhibition he particularly wanted to honor
two exchanged persons, one Greek Orthodox lady and one Muslim lady, who
recently lost their lives after interviewing him for the event.
In the wake of World War I, up to 2 million Greek-Orthodox and Muslim
people were forced to leave their homes and settle in Greece and Turkey,
respectively, during and after what the Turks call The War of Liberation
and what the Greeks call the Asia Minor Catastrophe in the early 1920s.
The Lausanne Convention on the exchange of populations in early 1923
formalized this process.
Efthymiou’s four grandparents all were exchanged persons. Three of them
originally were from the western Turkish town of Isparta and the fourth
was from the southern town of Antalya.
He came up with the idea of a photo exhibition during the process of
researching his family roots. He worked on the common plights of the
Greek-Orthodox from Turkey and the Muslims from Greece equally diligently.