At the annual Warsaw Human Dimension Conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Archon Rocky Sisson, Archon Prepositos, once again called attention to the ways in which the government of Turkey is depriving the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Christians of that country of basic rights. The conference was held from October 2 to 13, 2023; Archon Sisson participated along with Archon Hon. Steven G. Counelis, Archon Nomophylax.Archons Sisson and Counelis each submitted written statements. On October 6, Archon Sisson spoke at the fourth Plenary Session, which was devoted to fundamental freedoms, and detailed the actions of the Turkish government toward the Ecumenical Patriarchate that violate universally accepted standards of human rights. He declared that “the Turkish government must undertake the following: grant legal standing to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, allow the reopening of the Halki Theological School, return all the properties that it has confiscated from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and end the practice of converting ancient Christian churches into mosques.”
Archon Sisson added: “The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have reported on these issues every year. There has been, unfortunately, no change in the status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” He also noted that “our commitment to protecting the future of faith necessitates that we also speak against those Orthodox Christians who, with state support, undermine the religious rights of others.” In that connection, he pointed out that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has condemned Russia’s unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and quoted His All-Holiness as saying: “We have repeatedly condemned aggression and violence, as we fervently and fraternally appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow to separate his position from political crimes, even if it means stepping down from his throne.”
In addition to their presentations, Archons Sisson and Counelis also held several other meetings with key officials, including Dr. Michael Carpenter, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE, and Ambassador Michael Kozak, head of the U.S. delegation. Additionally, they met with members of the U.S. delegation and the Canadian delegation, as well as representatives of Greece, Cyprus, The Constantinopolitan Society, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Human Rights Without Frontiers. The Archons also met with Rabbi Andrew Baker, a leading expert on anti-semitism in Europe.
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, when Archon Spiro Makris represented the Order at the OSCE conference, 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. Other Archons who have defended the Ecumenical Patriarchate at OSCE conferences are Constantine Caras and Stamatios Kartalopoulos.
Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, stated: "We're proud to have brought vital issues of religious freedom and the rights of our Mother Church of Constantinople to the international arena at the OSCE conferences. Year after year, Archons have provided a prophetic voice in defense of our sacred traditions and the rights of every human being. For that, I give heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, as well as to the Archons who have given of their time and talents to travel to Europe and take a stand."