A dinner given by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko tonight on Jan 5 in honor of Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul may have repercussions in regional politics. Another guest of honor of the dinner at Conrad Hotel in Istanbul is Metropolit Ephifanios of Kiev whose independence (autocephaly) from the Moscow church was approved earlier in the day by Bartolomew. That was something that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to stop for years. Putin considers the church as a part of his influence in East Europe since autocephaly of Kiev as approved by Bartholomew could trigger autonomy demands of Orthodox churches of Monte-Negro and Macedonia.. On Jan 6, Istanbul and Kiev churches will have a communion together after centuries; Ukraine became 15th independent Orthodox church which is approved by Fener Patriarchate in Istanbul as acknowledge as Ecumenical by them.
In his opening speech, Poroshenko said that the independence of the Ukraine church will endorse the struggle for political sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country. Saluting Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan with whom he had talks earlier in the day, Poroshenko said he was particularly pleased with the support given to the independence of church by the people of Crimea, partly of Turkic origin which was annexed by Russia.
Turkey as a NATO member, stands by Ukraine against Russia but in cooperation with Russia in Syria war. The Greek Orthodox meeting in Istanbul took place at a time when the U.S. President Donald Trump decided to withdraw troops from East of Syria, as a move to take Turkish steam off and offered to sell Patriots to counter Turkish decision to buy S-400 air defense system from Russia.That is why the Orthodox reunion in Istanbul May have political repercussions in the East Europe and the Middle East in coming months which have to be watched carefully.
- The photo below shows (from right to left, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew of Fener in Istanbul and Mepropolit Ephianios of Kiev in the Istanbul dinner on Jan 5, 2019.