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Archons' Religious Freedom Mission in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate continues in Central and Eastern Europe

Vienna-Prague-Bucharest-Istanbul, Europe
5/7/2009

A delegation of Archons visited Central and Eastern Europe during the week of February 21-28, 2009, in continuation of the Archons' Religious Freedom Mission in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The five-member delegation traveled to Vienna, Prague and Bucharest and concluded its mission with an audience with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar. National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, MD, led the delegation which consisted of National Secretary John Halecky, Legal Counsel Christopher Stratakis and Dr. Spiro Macris, member of the National Council. Father Alexander Karloutsos, Assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America and Spiritual Adviser to The Order of St. Andrew also accompanied the delegation.

Victor Dvorak, Czech Republic Deputy Chief of Mission to the OSCE, meets with the Archon delegation.

VIENNA
Headquarters of the Organization of Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Vienna, the site of the OSCE headquarters was visited on February 22 and 23. The OSCE consists of 56 participating states from Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America. It was created during the Cold War as an East-West forum. Among its many mandates, the OSCE investigates issues such as violations of human rights and religious freedoms, issues which the Order of St. Andrew finds relevant to its mission regarding the protection and promotion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

In Vienna, the Archon delegation was joined by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Director of the Liaison Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the European Union. The delegation met with Kyle Scott, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to the OSCE and Thaddeus Kontek, Political Officer of the Mission. Dr. Limberakis briefed the officials on the repressive conditions under which the Ecumenical Patriarchate functions and which threaten its very existence.

Meeting with Ambassador Mara Marinaki, Ambassador of Greece to the OSCE.
Mr. Kontek also introduced the delegation to Ms. Winsome A. Packer, who is serving as the representative of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe to the OSCE in Vienna.

The delegation, accompanied by Mr. Kontek, then met with Greek officials posted to the OSCE: Ambassador Mara Marinaki, Ambassador of Greece to the OSCE; Deputy Chief of Mission Dionyssious Kyvetos, Counselor Christos Sofianopoulos and Public Affairs and Press Officer Alexandros Dimitrakopoulos. Dr. Limberakis introduced the Archon delegation and reviewed the objectives of the Archon mission to the OSCE relative to the current status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Ambassador Marinaki stated that the OSCE worked by consensus of all 56 participating states and had no powers of enforcement or punitive authority. Greece, which holds the chair of the OSCE for this year, 2009, is obligated to preside with total objectivity. Dr. Limberakis stated that all Christians, not just Orthodox, as well as non-Sunni Muslims are discriminated against in Turkey.

The delegation's final meeting in Vienna was with the Czech Deputy Chief of Mission to the OSCE Victor Dvorak and Human Dimension Officer Jara Kalimonova. It should be noted that the Czech Republic currently holds the presidency of the European Union.

Members of the Archon delegation traveled by an overnight train and arrived in Prague on Februrary 24, 2009. where they met with the head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, Archbishop Miloslav Cardinal Vlk.
PRAGUE
Current presidency of EU
(1/1/2009 - 6/30/2009)
Coordinates negotiations with EU candidate nations, including Turkey


On February 24, in Prague, the Czech Republic, the delegation visited the U.S. Embassy and met with Mary Thompson-Jones, Deputy Chief of Mission; Charles O. Blaha, Political Officer; and James K. Connell, Political Officer. Dr. Limberakis briefed the officials on the state of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Deputy Chief of Mission Thompson-Jones congratulated the delegation on its EU and OSCE initiatives, and advised the delegation to visit Sweden prior to its acceding to the EU presidency in July of this year.

The delegation then went to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met with JUDr. Pavel Svitil, Head of Working Group for Enlargement of the EU, for South and South East Europe. Dr. Limberakis briefed Dr. Svitil on the state of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

On February 25, in Bucharest, Romania, the delegation went to the U.S. Embassy and met with Charge d' Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission Jeri Guthrie-Corn; Political Counselor Theodore Tanoue; and Political Specialist Rodica Barlanescu. Dr. Limberakis briefed the officials on the state of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the specific elements relating to its suppression.

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania receives the Archon delegation consisting of [L-R] Fr. Alex Karloutsos, Archon Christopher Stratakis, National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, Archons John Halecky and Dr. Spiro Macris. Fr. Michael Tita, Romanian Patriarchal Counselor, is pictured on the far right.
BUCHAREST
Romania is the most populous Orthodox country in EU
Archon visitaton reinforced their engagement in the religious freedom process for the Ecumenical Patriachate


On February 26, the delegation met with a number of officials of the Romanian government. Meetings were held with Presidential Adviser Bogdan Tataru Cazaban; at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Bogdan Aurescu, Secretary of State, and Razvan Rotundu, Director of Human Rights and Council of Europe Division; and at the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, with Adrian Nicolae Lemeni, Secretary of State. The delegation also met Dr. Dorina-Maria Nastase, Political Reporter and Head of the Political Section, and Doina Servan, Coordinator Team Europe and EDC Coordinator, both European Commission Representatives in Romania. Dr. Limberakis discussed the state of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the delegation received a sympathetic hearing.

The delegation received the support of U.S. embassy officials in Vienna, Prague and Bucharest in arranging meetings with government officials. Discussions with U.S. officials were both frank and cordial. Meetings with government and OSCE officials in all three cities were informative and the delegation was respectfully received. A briefing packet containing several items of information regarding the mission of the Archons and the present state of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was given to every individual with whom the delegation met -- some 60 packets in all. Dr. Limberakis and the delegation clearly stated at all meetings that the Order of St. Andrew supported the entry of Turkey into the EU, but through it mission hoped to improve the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

No less important than the delegation's meetings with U.S. and European government and OSCE officials, was the delegation's meetings with clergy in all three cities visited. In Vienna the delegation attended Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral and met with Metropolitan Michael of Austria. Also in Vienna, the delegation had a meeting with His Excellency Reverend Michael Banach, permanent representative of the Vatican to the OSCE. In Prague the delegation met with Miloslav Cardinal Vlk, Archbishop of Prague and Head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. In Bucharest the delegation met with His Beatitude Daniel, Archbishop of Bucharest and Patriarch of Romania. Also present were Metropolitan Ciprian Campineanu and Father Michael Tita, Patriarchal Counselor.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (center) and Archbishop Meliton (left) with Archons Spiro Macris, Christopher Stratakis, and John Halecky. (Photo by N. Manginas)

ISTANBUL
Headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The mission of the Archon delegation concluded on Saturday February 28 with a meeting with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Secretary John Halecky reported on the delegation's meetings in Vienna, Prague and Bucharest. Legal Counsel Christopher Stratakis discussed several issues pending before the Archon Legal Committee. Archbishop Meliton was also in attendance. His All Holiness thanked the Archon delegation for its efforts on behalf of the Mother Church.

View photos of the Religious Freedom Mission

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