Syriac leader refuses to move patriarchate to Turkey

n_16491_42.jpgISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
 Vercihan Ziflioğlu
 Echove Gouriye says the patriarchate holds Syriac population together in Syria.

The head of the Syriac Union Party in Syria stated his opposition to the relocation of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus and the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Beirut back into Turkey.

“We have a large population in Syria, and the patriarchate is the highest institution that holds them together. The relocation of the patriarchate would be tantamount to our people losing their presence [in Syria],” Echove Gouriye, head of the Syrian Syriac Union Party, told Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkish officials have been holding talks toward relocating the Catholic and Orthodox Syriac Patriarchates back into Turkey, Gouriye said, adding they were under great strain due to the repressive attitude of the al-Assad regime in Syria. Many party members have been arrested, he said.

“If Turkey truly wants to do something, then the restoration of Syriacs’ rights in Turkey would suffice for us,” said Gouriye, who is currently in Turkey for a visit.

“As you know, there is a single party administration in Syria. As such, all parties are regarded as illegal. We continue waging our struggle to act as the voice of Syriacs, Greeks, Maronites and Muslim Syriacs,” Gouriye said, adding that the party was established in 2005.