ETCHMIADZIN — An agreement on the elections of the Patriarch of Istanbul has been reached after two days of discussions at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Based on the agreement, the Locum Tenens will be elected by the Clerical Assembly by March 15. The elections will terminate the powers of the General Vicar of the Patriarch Aram Ateshian. The Bishops will have equal rights to participate in the elections of the Locum Tenens.

After the elections, the Clerical Assembly will form a commission comprising clergymen and secular figures to organize the transfer of power from the General Vicar to the Locum Tenens.

The elections of the initiative group will be organized within 10 days after the election of the Locum Tenens. The group will, in turn, organize the elections of the Patriarch of Istanbul within a six-month period.

Official Statement by the Mother See
With the participation of three friar bishops, Aram Ateshian, General Vicar of Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, Bishop Sahak Mashalyan, president of the spiritual council of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, and Archbishop Karekin Bekchian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Germany, a number of meetings took place on February 23-24 chaired by the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II.

Prior to the meeting on February 23 the Catholicos and the bishops visited the Mother See where they raised their prayers for the centuries-old Patriarchy of Istanbul, and for overcoming the current challenges, as well as for the restoration of peace and solidarity within the Istanbul-Armenian community. They also prayed for Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul), who remains under constant medical care at St. Savior hospital.

The recent incidents in the Armenian Patriarchy in Istanbul, the stir over the Patriarchal election and disagreements were touched upon during the meetings.

The Catholicos of All Armenians urged the clergymen to spare no efforts to reinforce mutual understanding, solidarity and spiritual fraternity among the clerics and the Istanbul-Armenians. It was the behest of His Holiness Karekin II to organize Patriarchal elections in line with the rules and traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The bishops provided the Catholicos with necessary information on the situation and proposed ways out. Discussions revolved around the proposals leading to some key agreements, including the election of the locum tenens by March 15. As a result, the powers of the General Vicar will be suspended. Another key agreement is that all the friar bishops have equal rights to run for locum tenens.

Following the election the Religious Council will set a commission comprised of clergymen and secular people to organize the handover-acceptance as prescribed by law.

Following the election of the locum tenens an Initiating body will be set within 10 days, which headed by the locum tenens will organize the election of the Patriarch of Constantinople according to standard procedures. The Initiating body shall report on the works of organizing the Patriarchal elections to the Religious Council and the public on monthly basis.

The Initiating body shall ensure equal conditions the Patriarchal candidates for their election campaign.

In case a Patriarch is not elected within 6 months a motion of no confidence towards the locum tenens and the Initiating body can be tabled by the Church congress and the heads of community establishments.

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