The Armenian Apostolic Church Patriarchate of Constantinople will have a new leader in 2017. The severe illness of incumbent Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan hasn’t allowed him to perform his functions since 2007. In October 2016, the Supreme Council decided to appeal to the relevant authorities for the election of a new patriarch. The elections will most likely take place in spring, said Bagrat Estoukian, the editor of Agos Weekly Armenian edition in an interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am.
“The campaign has not even started, and it is difficult to say who are the likely candidates. At the moment, there are four registered candidates: Deputy Patriarch Aram Ateshian, Bishop Sahak Mashalian of the Religious Council, head of the German Diocese Archbishop Garegin Bekchyan, and head of Gugark Diocese Archbishop Sepuh Chuldjian. In my opinion, the final struggle will be between two out of four candidates, as two others will give up,” he said.
According to Bagrat Estoukian, it is hard to say exactly, which candidates will compete at the final round. He did not exclude a scenario, when Deputy Patriarch Aram Ateshian abandon the competition.
“Ateshian’s candidacy is out-of-date, and I hardly see people vote for him,” he added. Estoukian replied to the question about a possible interference to the elections by the Turkish authorities. “It is impossible, that the Turkish authorities intervene, because if they try something like that, it will have an opposite effect.”
The Armenian community in Istanbul has long been divided over the choice of the patriarch. Patriarch Mutafyan is unable to perform his duties due to health problems. However, according to the regulations of the Patriarchate, the patriarch is elected for life. Most of the community was demanding new elections, while the other part of the community stressed that ecclesiastical law prohibits the selection of a new patriarch, while the incumbent is alive.
During these years, the functions of the patriarch have been carried out by the Deputy Patriarch Aram Ateshian. Part of the Armenian community of Istanbul does not accept Ateshian and consider him a person appointed by Erdogan.
Armenia News - NEWS.am