Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim Meets with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey

Regarding release efforts of two kidnapped Archbishops.

Resulting from an intense dialogue with the State Department, US political figures and international diplomats, efforts by the Archdiocese were further enhanced by a meeting of Prime Minister Erdogan with His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim. On Friday May 17, 2013, in an orchestrated session at the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, during a reception ending the week-long visit of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Tan invited His Eminence to the reception to assure the face to face meeting opportunity. His Eminence urged Prime Minister Erdogan to use the authority of his office to determine the status of the two abducted Archbishops, identify their kidnappers and seek the Turkish government’s efforts to ensure their safe and prompt release. His Eminence also personally delivered a private letter to the Prime Minister about what is believed to be relevant facts surrounding the kidnapping and potential whereabouts of the Archbishops. The Prime Minister, through a translator, said to His Eminence that only criminals and terrorists would even think to kidnap holy men and agreed to work toward their release. Prime Minster Erdogan clasped the hand of Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim for a few minutes and added, “Inshallah” they will be released soon.

On Tuesday of the same week, at the urging of the Archdiocese and the Orthodox Community in the United States, six Members of the United States House of Representatives circulated a petition seeking their colleagues’ signature to a letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to prioritize the release of the two kidnapped Archbishops during their discussions and international deliberations about Syria. In only four days, and thanks to the numerous phone calls to congressional representatives, 72 signatures were secured. His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim said he was very pleased with that number. The Archbishop and the Archdiocese continues to be committed one hundred percent to this cause and will not rest until the Archbishop’s are released. His Eminence added that he urges everyone to continue praying. Through prayer and our trust in the Almighty the safe release of these two respected religious leaders will soon be a reality.

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