The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, took an important decision with specific political dimensions as regards the prospect of resorting to the European Court of Human Rights on such issues as the lack of a legal status for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Universality and the Halki School of Theolody, and concerning Turkey’s relations with the Council of Europe.
It is an “opinion” adopted by the Commission on March 13 on the issue of the “legal status of the religious communities in Turkey and the right of the orthodox patriarchate of Istanbul to use the adjective Ecumenical.” Special importance is given to the “opinion’ by the fact that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked for it from the Commission.
The finalised text of the “opinion” mentions that the Lausanne Treaty sets no restriction regarding the use of the adjective “Ecumenical” on the part of the Patriarchate, while it is noted that this right also emanates from article 9 of the European Treaty on the Rights of Man.
It is mentioned that “from the European Treaty on the Rights of Man no obligation emanates for the Turkish authorities to proceed with the use of this title, when referring to the Patriarchate or recognise it officially. If the authorities do not want to use this title, they are formally free by the European Treaty not to do it, provided that they do not obstruct third parties from using it.”
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