The clash of Moscow and Constantinople: details

The clash of interests of Moscow and Constantinople was provoked not only by the unstable political and religious situation in Ukraine. The decision of Patriarch Bartholomew on the need to provide autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church arose against the background of the instability of his rear — the Greek-Turkish relations.

In fact, today there is a tremendous pressure on Bartholomew from the Turkish authorities. However, his position was never enviable, however, after the coup in 2016, during which Bartholomew quickly flew to Slovakia, the special services of the Turkish Republic finally took him under constant control. Since then, he practically does not happen in the Istanbul Phanar, arriving only on serious occasions, exposing around him a serious guard. Moreover, despite repeated threats of killing by radical Islamists, the Turkish police are only reducing their forces in the Fanar region.

What was the reason for this attitude of the Turkish authorities to Patriarch Bartholomew? Obviously, the strange behavior of the primate during the coup in Turkey is just an excuse. According to a number of political experts,

The existing conflict between Bartholomew and Turkey has a “layered” structure. One of the “layers” that is no longer on the surface is the Turkish leadership’s perception of the constant expansion of the influence of Constantinople, which primarily violates the Lozansky Peace Treaty of 1923. Recall, according to this document, Constantinople nourishes primarily the Greeks in Turkey. Today, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is the largest church in the world, represented in Turkey, the USA, Canada, Greece, Estonia, Finland, and now, most likely, in Ukraine. Moreover, the territory of the latter may become decisive for the formation of a “reserve bridgehead” or even a temporary transfer of its residence in case of complicated relations with the Turkish government.

After all, the Poroshenko regime is unstable, there are many potential Ukrainian flocks, and the historical status of Kiev is great.

Even some Islamic movements on the territory of Ukraine itself, in particular, the Crimean Tatar movement of Mustafa Dzhemilev, declare close ties with Constantinople.

Mustafa Dzhemilev

It should be noted that Mustafa Dzhemilev is not a simple person, and the Commissioner for the Affairs of the Crimean Tatar People under the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. In addition, Bartholomew today claims to be the “primacy of honor” in the Orthodox world, which is in no way consistent with Turkish territorial politics. All these components have led to the fact that the Patriarchate of Constantinople cannot sit exactly in one place, it has to adapt to the current situation.

The obvious risks of losing most of the privileges “in the rear” split the leadership of Constantinople into those who are ready to sag under Ankara and those who absolutely do not want to do this. The first group constantly convinces the Turkish authorities that having the Church of Constantinople on its territory means prestige and opportunities. The second is that under no circumstances does he wish to make concessions without denying the possibility of having a “spare airfield”. Obviously, Bartholomew today is in extremely difficult conditions and the above problems are not the only ones.

But the most unpleasant thing in everything is that a possible split of the Orthodox world would be beneficial to the Islamic world competing with it in the Middle East, as well as a number of other religious and political entities, including Turkey’s influence not the least. Such a balance of power will weaken not only Moscow, but first and foremost Constantinople itself and other Greek churches.

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Dmitry Kromiadi

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