Patriarchal election: the date is set, chaos is growing

After the resignation of Sahak Maşalyan, the head of the Clerical Assembly, the debate on election continues. The date is set for the election, but the reactions don't stop.

After the resignation of Sahak Maşalyan, the head of the Clerical Assembly, the debate on election continues. 13 people, including Vicar of Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, Sahak Maşalyan, Dikran Gülmezgil, Erol Ergan, Melkon Karaköse, Hayk Aslanyan, Vasken Barın, Cezo Taş, Efrim Bağ, Kevork Okçu, Hrant Moskofyan, have signed a protocol. It is announced that the election will be held on May 28, 2017 and the process is explained. 

Here is the protocol: 

“Recent developments concerning the patriarchal election lead our society to conflicts with unpredictable outcomes. Wise people of our society, Their Eminences Archbishop Aram Ateşyan and Bishop Sahak Maşalyan came together and issued a protocol that will bring peace until the election.

  1. A değabah (trustee) will be chosen among the esteemed clerics on February 17.

  2. On February 18, Clerical Assembly and society leaders invited by the değabah will assign the Enterprising Committee, which consists of 15 people, 2 of them being clerics.

  3. On February 20, değabah and the Enterprising Committee will write the proper letter and present it to the governor's office.

  4. His Eminence Aram will continue to be the general vicar until the election, but he won't deal with and intervene in the election process.

  5. May 28 is the day of our election.

Secret meeting

After the resignation of Maşalyan, VADİP (Cooperation and Consultation Platform for Foundations), foundation chairs and executives decided to meet on February 16. The committee, including many foundation chairs, Representative of Minority Foundations of the Directorate General of Foundations Toros Alcan, CHP MP Selian Doğan, came together.

When the meeting was started, it turned out that a group, including Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation Chair Bedros Şirinoğlu, Melkon Karaköse, Vasken Barın and Erol Ergan, were in a secret meeting. 

At the beginning of the meeting, Vice Chair of Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation Hermon Balyan said that there was a meeting in the patriarchate, a protocol was going to be signed there and they should wait for it. 

Toros Alcan stated that he was invited to the meeting on a moment's notice and he refused to attend it. 

The protocol caused reactions

After the meeting in the patriarchate, some people including Bedros Şirinoğlu, Dikran Gülmezgil, Vasken Barın, came to the meeting in the church. Dırtat Uzunyan read the protocol, which caused tension. People reacted against the protocol and the secret meeting, stating that Ateşyan should resign. Toros Alcan wanted to leave the meeting, but he was convinced to stay. Some people started to fight. Undercover police officers came to the meeting hall and riot police was brought to the yard. Şirinoğlu and other people who attended the meeting in the patriarchate left the hall. 

Severe criticism

After the quarrel came to an end, the meeting moderated by Toros Alcan was started. People reacted against the protocol. 

Toros Alcan: This is nonsense. This is a disgrace. We don't need a general vicar. We don't recognize this protocol. It is formally and legally invalid. We weren't able to get permission from the governor's office. How will we get it now? If it is possible, why haven't you got it until now?

Selina Doğan: This is problematic in terms of the procedure. There is an agreement between two people, but the situation is beyond that. We have to find a permanent solution. Probably, the government will continue to regard Ateşyan as the addressee. 

Lawyer Sebu Aslangil: He is our representative as the general vicar. He was assigned by the decision of the cabinet. His Eminence Aram should resign, unless the election would be meaningless. The state might not assign the elected patriarch. 

Vice President of VADİP Harutyun Şanlı: If there is no patriarch, then there is no vicar. He should have resigned and a değabah must have been chosen. We held this meeting for that purpose. We were planning to write a declaration to present it to the patriarchate, but it was provoked. This is a rescue operation for Ateşyan. 

Chair of Feriköy Foundation Murat Öğer: For 8 years, there has been a lack of system. Now, the election is on the way. We should act in solidarity. We have to transform with this election. We have complaints, but the way for election is paved. It looks like an autocratic move, but there is a way now.


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Uygar Gültekin