U.S. President Barack Obama met religious leaders, among them a high-ranking Armenian cleric, in Istanbul as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Turkey on Tuesday.
Obama held a group meeting with Armenian Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Chief Rabbi of Istanbul Isak Haleva, Grand Mufti of Istanbul Mustafa Cagrici and Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Yusuf Cetin before holding a private meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.
Ateshian is one of the spiritual leaders of Turkey’s small Armenian community largely concentrated in Istanbul. According to Rober Hadejian, editor of the local Armenian-language “Marmara” daily, Ateshian spoke at length not only about challenges facing the community but also the World War One-era massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
“The archbishop had enough time to explain and talk about the events of 1915 and the Armenian community’s expectations regarding those events as well as the community’s role in the history of this country,” Hadejian told RFE/RL. “My understanding is that Monsignor Aram spoke more than other participants of the meeting,” he said.