Archon Hon. Steven G. Counelis, Archon Nomophylax, along with Archon Rocky Sisson, Archon Prepositos, once again raised international awareness regarding the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the annual Warsaw Human Dimension Conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which was held from October 2 to 13, 2023.
Archons Sisson and Counelis each participated in the assembly and submitted written statements. On October 5, Archon Counelis delivered an oral statement at the conference’s third Plenary Session, which was devoted to issues of tolerance and non-discrimination. He called attention to the five issues which “perpetuate religious and cultural discrimination against the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” and noted that the Archons “strenuously object to the Turkish government’s 2020 decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.”
Archon Hon. Counelis also submitted a detailed written statement, providing a wealth of detail about how the Turkish government deprives the Ecumenical Patriarchate of essential rights, and declaring: “The Turkish Constitution defines the country as a secular state. It provides for freedom of conscience, religious belief, conviction, expression, and worship and prohibits discrimination based on religious grounds. Nonetheless, the Government of Turkey has intentionally failed to create such a society for its Christian members, and other religious minorities. We call upon the Turkish Government to finally live up to its own Constitution.”
While in Poland, Archon Hon. Counelis paid a visit to Auschwitz, the site of an infamous Nazi death camp during World War II, and a lasting monument of what can be the horrific result of the same intolerance he decried at the OSCE conference.
The OSCE’s annual Warsaw Human Dimension Conference is Europe’s largest annual human rights and democracy conference. It is a platform for the 57 OSCE participating nation states, international organizations and other relevant individuals and groups to take stock of the implementation of the OSCE's human dimension commitments.
Since 2006, the Archons have sent a delegation to the OSCE meetings in order to present vital information to the international community on the Turkish Republic’s continuing violations of the human rights and religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the nation’s Christian community.