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AHIPAC Initiated Legislation on Ecumenical Patriarchate Included in 1999 Appropriations Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
October 26, 1998 No. 46/98

AHIPAC INITIATED LEGISLATION ON ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE INCLUDED IN 1999 APPROPRIATIONS LAW

The American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee is pleased to announce that Section 2804 of the 1999 Appropriations bill passed on October 22, 1998 contains provisions calling upon the United States to use its influence with the Government of Turkey to guarantee the security of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul and to reopen the Halki Theological School. The passage of this legislation achieves a key objective in AHIPAC's legislative program. The legislation states:

"It is the sense of Congress that the United States should use its influence with the Government of Turkey to suggest that the Government of Turkey:
(1) recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its nonpolitical, religious mission;
(2) ensure the continued maintenance of the institution's physical security needs, as provided for under Turkish and international law, including the Treaty of Lausanne, the 1968 Protocol, the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the Charter of Paris;
(3) provide for the proper protection and safety of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Patriarchate personnel; and
(4) reopen the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Halki Patriarchal School of Theology."

The Patriarchate issue was introduced at AHIPAC's initiative in the 104th Congress through H.Con.Res. 50. This was carried forward in the 105th Congress in the form of H.Con.Res 6. Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced both resolutions which attracted numerous co-sponsors. AHIPAC congratulates Congressman Bilirakis for his determination and persistence throughout this process.

AHIPAC now calls upon the Administration to initiate discussions with the Government of Turkey to ensure that it takes immediate practical steps to honor this new U.S. legislation. The Patriarchate's need for protection was dramatized in January 1998 when an Orthodox deacon attached to Agios Therapon church in Istanbul was murdered.

For inquiries, please call Nick Larigakis, AHIPAC Executive Director, at (202) 785-8430.