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Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Bolaris meets with the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback (Athens, 6 May 2019)
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Bolaris today received the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Dale Brownback, former Minister of Agriculture as well as the Governor of Kansas, in the context of the latter’s visit to Greece which, as he himself stressed, aims at forging bonds between the US and the Christian Orthodox world.
The Deputy Minister welcomed the State Department’s initiative to encourage cooperation between countries that are interested in safeguarding religious freedoms and eradicating persecution based on religion, which is included, as Ambassador Brownback noted, in the political decision by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to strengthen the role of the US in the areas in question.
There was an exchange of views on the situation of Christians in Middle Eastern countries, the difficult conditions that the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch face in caring for their flock and the sustainability of their functioning, as well as the pressures experienced by the Syriac Orthodox communities, the Assyrians and the Yezidi. Opportunities for cooperation were confirmed for reconstructing regions where Christian communities flourished for centuries or constitute cradles of civilisation, in countries plagued by war and terrorist attacks. Recent developments in current ecclesiastical issues, in Europe and America, were also discussed, which are also of interest to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Ambassador Brownback informed the Deputy Minister that the 2nd Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom will take place in Washington in July, voicing his hope that our country will again be represented on a ministerial level. In addition, he briefed the Deputy Minister that an invitation has also been sent to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Deputy Minister assured his interlocutor that he will participate.
The Deputy Minister briefed Ambassador Brownback on Greece’s actions to promote religious freedom, both domestically and abroad. The successful organisation of a two-day conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (29 Feb- 1 March 2019) on issues of religious and ecclesiastical diplomacy drew the attention of Mr. Brownback, in which representatives of churches and religious communities in Greece participated, with an aim to promote dialogue and submit proposals for forging an integrated strategy on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs related to the agenda of the two-day conference.