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Remarks of National Commander Limberakis at Banquet in Honor of Eric S. Edelman, US Ambassador to Turkey

2004 Archon Pilgrimage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate
The Restoration of the Holy Relics of St. Gregory the Theologian &
St. John Chrysostom

Religious Tolerance / Religious Tolerance Mission to Ankara

Tribute Banquet in Honor of The Hon. Eric S. Edelman, United States Ambassador to Turkey

Remarks
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
Archon Aktouarios
National Commander

Hilton Hotel / Ankara, Turkey
December 2, 2004

Your Excellency Ambassador Edelman, Your Excellency Ambassador Christides of the Hellenic Republic, reverend clergy, distinguished citizens of Turkey, Members of the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, ladies and gentlemen,

The Order of St. Andrew / Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America is an organization whose purpose is to support and defend the world center of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Among our ranks in America are senior members of Congress, current and former diplomats, successful businessmen and professionals and dedicated men of the church.

We have traveled thousands of miles from our homes throughout the United States as Pilgrims to visit our Spiritual Father, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the world�s 300 million Orthodox Christians. While in Istanbul, we witnessed a monumental event take place in the history of the Christian Faith. In the name of love and reconciliation, the Pope of Rome, John Paul II returned the Holy Relics of two of the most profound saints in all of Christianity: St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom that were taken from Constantinople by the invading 4th Crusaders 800 years ago in 1204. We saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears that anything can be accomplished in the name of peace, justice and love, despite the passage of centuries that ostensibly would otherwise result in solidifying the status quo and make change impossible. We witnessed the impossible. We witnessed reconciliation triumph over an injustice that existed over centuries.

And now we find ourselves in Ankara, the capital city of the Republic of Turkey where public policy is conceived and executed ultimately affecting the lives of all Turkish citizens, as well as the international community, since Turkey is the one nation on this earth that serves as the nexus between East and West, Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam. Today we deliberated with Foreign Minister Gul to convey a message of religious freedom and tolerance, side by side with the distinguished Ambassador of America, His Excellency Eric Edelman whom we honor this evening.

Ambassador Edelman stood, and stands by our side, as we seek: to re-open the Halki School of Theology which was forcibly closed by the government 33 years ago; to stop the egregious loss of properties held by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other religious or charitable institutions; and to prevent the government from expropriating an Orphanage owed by the Church on Pringipos Island. These are matters of religious tolerance. Ambassador Edelman stands by our side as we seek to, once again, explain that the Ecumenical Patriarch is just that � ecumenical, first among equals, primus inter pares, a title that was established in 567 AD, and not the local bishop of Istanbul; and as we have explained to our friends in the government of Turkey that the world center of the Orthodox Church located in the Phanar district of Istanbul must be free to elect its own leadership, whether on the Holy Synod or as Ecumenical Patriarch without regard to citizenship or ethnic background and without any governmental interference or regard to country of citizenship. All of these are matters of religious tolerance that all democratic governments must address so that they meet the standards of human rights and religious freedom set forth by the United Nations, the European Union and the moral consciousness of all peoples of good will.

Scores of American citizens have traveled to Ankara to convey a message of religious tolerance to the government of Turkey and to honor a distinguished American who represents the very best our nation, the United States of America stands for and he does so with distinction and honor. We honor Ambassador Eric S. Edelman because he stands for the rule of law and champions human rights, religious freedom and the dignity of man. His diplomatic assignment must be particularly challenging in light of the War on Terrorism that has engulfed the entire world, from New York City to Chechnya, from Baghdad to Madrid and from Jerusalem to Istanbul.

Ambassador Edelman has distinguished himself throughout his diplomatic career representing the United States of America with distinction, dedication and profound commitment to the ideals of the Founding Fathers. He facilitated America to forge closer ties with Finland where he was our able ambassador, or the Czech Republic, or the former Soviet Union, or the Middle East or Turkey, where he now so ably serves. I now realize how Vice President Cheney must continuously miss Ambassador Edelman's counsel and strategic advice on national security matters and simultaneously realize why President Bush appointed and the United States Senate confirmed such a committed, experienced and knowledgeable diplomat to represent America in Turkey.

Ambassador Edelman who holds an undergraduate degree in History and Government from Cornel University and a PhD in US Diplomatic History from Yale University has distinguished himself academically and during the past year and a half has again distinguished himself diplomatically in Turkey at a time when the United States is at war with those who murder and torture the innocent. We the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, salute Ambassador Eric Edelman for his service to the people of the United States, for his commitment to religious freedom and tolerance and for representing the very finest in what America offers to all peoples of the world: the unparalleled dedication and defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

God Bless Ambassador Edelman!
God Bless Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew!
God Bless the people of Turkey and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan!
God Bless America and President George W. Bush!


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