Cablegate: Ecumenical Patriarchate Focuses On Security Issues

Published: Tue 19 Oct 2004 07:33 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
Sensitive but Unclassified-- not for internet distribution.
This message was coordinated with Embassy Ankara.
1. (SBU) Summary: Following the October 7 hand grenade attack
on the compound of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fener,
Consulate security personnel have worked closely with
officials there to provide security advice. The
Patriarchate's chief administrative officer, Chancellor
Theoliptos, expressed appreciation for the USG's attention
and noted that he is planning a number of security upgrades
to the compound. He added that he is generally satisfied
with police cooperation and response to incidents at the
Patriarchate. On a separate subject, Patriarchal officials,
including the Patriarch himself, continue to inquire about
the status of a U.S. response to press allegations that the
Department of Defense provided 12 million USD in funding for
"bribes" to facilitate the opening of Halki seminary. End
2. (SBU) Bombing and Follow-up: As reported in reftel,
shortly after midnight on October 7 an unidentified assailant
threw an explosive device (identified as a hand grenade by
police after subsequent discovery of a pin) over the back
wall of the Ecumenical Patriarchate compound. The device
exploded near the roof of St. George Church, shattering
several windows in the upper clerestory, as well as the
window of one apartment in the Patriarchal residential
building facing the church. There were no injuries. On
October 13, Istanbul RSO met with Chancellor Theoliptos to
review developments and provide security advice. The
chancellor indicated that he is "generally satisfied" with
police department response and cooperation. He noted that he
spoke with Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah about
security subsequent to the attack, and that the chief had
undertaken to send someone from the Turkish National Police
to visit the Patriarchate and make security recommendations.
(Note: In a subsequent phone conversation, Cerrah's deputy,
the Police Chief for Fener, confirmed that he will send
someone to review security issues. We will follow up this
week to ensure that this occurs. End Note.)
3. (SBU) Upgrades: Theoliptos noted that he plans security
upgrades, including a new perimeter security camera system, a
new metal detector, and installation of new fencing that will
make it more difficult to throw material over the wall. RSO
also recommended installation of shatter resistant window
film, creation of safehavens, and solicitation of police
support for patrolling of the back wall of the Patriarchate,
which has been the location of most incidents. (Note:
Currently there is a permanent police presence at the front
of the compound, but not at the rear. In addition, the TNP
provides a three-man personal protection detail to the
Patriarch. End Note.)
4. (SBU) Halki Controversy: On an unrelated subject,
Patriarchate officials, including His All Holiness himself,
continue to express concern about a press controversy which
briefly flared at the beginning of October regarding
allegations that the U.S. Defense Department provided the
Patriarchate with 12 million USD to "bribe" Turkish officials
to facilitate the reopening of Halki Seminary. The
allegation, made in documents submitted to the 6th District
Court in Kadikoy by Vasilaki Filoridi, who is suing the
Patriarchate for alleged misuse of 3.3 million USD that he
contributed, received wide press coverage in early October
(albeit mostly in more marginal, nationalist papers). The
Patriarchate convoked the Consulate on October 6 to request
an official USG statement denying the allegation. We
understand that such a message is being cleared on an
inter-agency basis in Washington. The Patriarch himself made
an oblique reference to the issue in his October 10 meeting
with a delegation from the American Jewish Committee.
5. (SBU) Comment: The recent spate of security incidents
surrounding the Patriarchate, coming after several years of
relative quiet, are a matter for concern. Turkey's progress
towards the European Union, and understanding of the sorts of
changes that this will require, appears to have inflamed the
sentiments of a small core group of extreme nationalists,
leading not just to the recent terrorist incident, but also
to a public campaign against reopening of Halki. We will
continue to closely monitor the situation, and provide advice
as appropriate, and have encouraged the Patriarchate to
immediately inform us of further, similar developments. End
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