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Turkey’s Armenians in crisis over patriarch

A rift over the spiritual leadership of Turkey’s Armenian community exposes the Turkish state’s political machinations in dealing with this minority.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan`s wife Emine Erdogan (L), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2nd L), Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (C), Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Aram Atesyan (2nd R), and Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva (R) take their places during a dinner on August 28, 2011, at the Archeology Museum Garden in Istanbul. Erdogan hosted religious leaders and the heads of about 160 minority trusts at a fast-breaking dinner for Ramadan. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Imag
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Turkey’s Armenian community is eagerly awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit at the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court, that is likely to have a major impact on how the Armenian patriarchate of Constantinope functions in the future. The legal battle concerns who should elect the Armenian patriarch — a small group of clergy or the broader community.

The case has pitted one segment of the Armenian community against the Interior Ministry and other community members. It has also exposed a serious rift that sheds light on the Armenian minority’s reality in Turkey and the government’s strategies for controlling the patriarchate.

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