Equal citizenship in new Constitution

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Minorities in Turkey are raising high expectations over a new Constitution, Laki Vingas, who is in charge of minority foundations in the Foundations Directorate General, said yesterday during an Istanbul panel that gathered Orthodox Parliament members from various countries.

 “Turkey is in a process of change. As minority communities, we expect equal citizenship from the new Constitution,” said Vingas, addressing the panel titled “The Social Dimension of Monotheistic Religion,” organized by The Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) at the Hotel Renaissance Istanbul Bosphorus.

Vingas made a speech titled “Religious minorities as a factor of democracy and co-existence,” in which he underlined the minorities’ hopes from the new Constitution.

 The conference was held on Mar. 3 and 4 with the attendance of Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew, Turkey’s Armenians Acting Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, President of the IAO General Assembly and Member of the Russian State Duma, Sergei Popov. Parliament members from Greece, Finland, Russia, Armenia, Egypt, Poland, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greek Cyprus were present at the panel.

 Holding the panel in Istanbul has symbolic importance as the Fener Greek Patriarchate is accepted as an ecumenical and universal entity by Orthodoxies all around the world; however, Turkey does not recognize its ecumenical title.

Combating Islamophobia

A member of the Hellenic Parliament, IAO Alternate Secretary General Eirini Dourou made a speech titled “Democracy, civil society, religion.”

“Religion is under the scope of political powers. So, Muslim brothers taking power in Egypt is a notable phenomenon in this regard,” Dourou said.

 Dourou also said Turkey is a role model for the Middle East, using Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an example. “It is required to put emphasis on information to combat Islamophobia. The press has a crucial role in that. It should be kept in mind that fundamentalism exists in all religions apart from Islam. No matter what our religion is, we must exclude fundamentalism from our lives,” Dourou said.

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