A Turkish government official has acknowledged that recent acts of vandalism to Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Halki were unprovoked and illegal. [Read the press release]
In a meeting with a delegation of Archons, Fikeret Kasapoglu, the Deputy Governor of Istanbul for Religious Minorities, said the actions of eight forestry officials in vandalizing the monastery were unprovoked and indeed illegal.
Meeting with Mr. Kasapoglu were Archon National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, Archon Legal Committee Chairman Christopher Stratakis and Archon Litigation Subcommittee Chairman George Rockas. Also in attendance was William M. Coleman IV, the Vice Consul of the United States in Istanbul. The meeting was held on Nov. 30, 2007, at offices of the Governor of Istanbul. In the presence of the Archon Delegation, Mr. Kasapoglu telephoned Melvut Kurban, Governor of the Princes' Islands under whose jurisdiction is Halki, who, according to Kasapoglu, stated the following:
1. The Ecumenical Patriarchate had the necessary permits and permissions to perform the renovation work on the monastery and the structure was not on land under the control of the Ministry of Forestry;
2. The acts of the Forestry officials were not approved by the Ministry and were conducted outside their official duties; and
3. The officers involved apologized for their actions and were "removed" from the area.
He also informed the delegation that Kurban said that he would address the issues of repair and paying for the damages.
Following the meeting with Kasapoglu, the delegation returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for consultations and reported on the meetings in Ankara [Read the press release] and with Deputy Governor Kasapoglu.