U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Acting Spokesman
August 1, 2005
QUESTION: On the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Mr. Casey, according to reports from Ankara, the Vice Premier of Turkey, Mehmet Ali Sahim, with a usual statement today, attacked personally the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople Bartholomew, threatened His All Holiness of the Orthodox Church, and that the Erdogan Government is going to take the appropriate legal steps against Him and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Any comment, since the U.S. Government is very sensitive on matters of religious freedom globally?
MR. CASEY: Yeah. Mr. Lambrose, I certainly haven't seen those remarks, but I think what I could tell you is that in general--you know, we support the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul and talk with the Turkish Government on a regular basis about the Patriarchate. And certainly, as you said, the United States is committed to religious freedom, not only in Turkey but around the world. And we certainly would encourage the Government of Turkey and all governments to provide the maximum opportunity for people to freely express their religious beliefs and opinions.