Reps. Maloney, Bilirakis Introduce Resolution Urging Turkey to Respect the Rights and Religious Freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Mar 25, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – On Greek Independence Day, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, have introduced H.Res. 136, a resolution urging Turkey to meet the standards of the European Union for the protection of human rights by respecting the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

“Turkey must recognize that the accession criteria for joining the European Union include respect for and protection of minorities and guaranteeing human rights,” said Rep. Maloney.  “Since beginning these accession negotiations, Turkey has failed to recognize the respect and recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s international status and allow the reopening of the Theological School at Halki. It is time for this suppression of religious freedom to come to an end.”

“Turkey’s perpetual violation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s religious freedoms shows continued disregard for international law and the basic tenets of human rights,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “This behavior is deplorable in today's world, and I continue to call on Turkey to grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international recognition and ecclesiastic succession; the right to train clergy of all nationalities; and the immediate and unrestricted opening of Halki Seminary and other confiscated property.”

The Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, includes 119 Members of Congress. The purpose of this bipartisan caucus is to foster and improve relations between the United States and Greece. The Caucus serves to bring a renewed Congressional focus on key diplomatic, military, and human rights issues in a critical part of the world. Congresswoman Maloney was a co-founder of the Caucus and has served as its Co-Chair since its founding.