Days before his departure for Ankara to assume his critical post, the newly confirmed United States Ambassador to Turkey, Ross L. Wilson met with Archon National Commander Dr. Anthony Limberakis and Washington Regional Commander Andrew Manatos to discuss religious freedom in Turkey. The luncheon meeting took place on a sunny Saturday afternoon two days after Thanksgiving in greater Washington and was indicative of the importance the subject of religious freedom is to President Bush, the State Department and United States foreign policy.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate continues to be denied religious freedom because of the official policies of the government of Turkey. The following issues were reviewed with Ambassador Wilson:
- Refusal of government of Turkey to recognize Ecumenical Patriarchate as a bona fide legal entity
- Continued and accelerated confiscation of properties owned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, its affiliated charitable institutions and its churches
- Refusal of government of Turkey to recognize the Ecumenical title of His All Holiness Bartholomew and his canonical leadership in world Orthodoxy as First Among Equals; he is not just the local bishop of Istanbul
- Interference by government of Turkey in election of Ecumenical Patriarch with their illegitimate insistence that he be a Turkish citizen
- Refusal of government of Turkey to reopen Halki School of Theology after they forcibly closed it in 1971
Mr. Wilson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, most recently served as Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State. Prior to this, he served as Chief United States Negotiator for the Free Trade Area of the Americas at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Earlier in his career, he was Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan. Mr. Wilson has also served as Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the New Independent states of the former Soviet Union. Mr. Wilson born in 1955 received his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and master's degrees from Columbia University and the National War College.
The Order is confident that Ambassador Wilson will continue in the tradition of his distinguished predecessors, Marc Grossman, Robert Pearson and Eric Edelman championing religious freedom and human rights in Turkey.
In the Service of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
November 27, 2005