Mustafa Dzhemilev tells how he persuaded Erdogan of the necessity of autocephaly
The leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Dzhemilev, said that he had intensively discussed with the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He said this in an interview with BBC, according to TSN.
“We worked very hard in this direction, we [the Crimean Tatars] systematically worked and explained to Erdogan how important it was for Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars to have an independent Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine. I used to explain it to Erdogan in such popular terms, saying, like now Moscow is the Mecca for the Orthodox, and after the Tomos and autocephaly are granted to the Ukrainian Church it will become Istanbul, and this is of political significance for you. When we were flying to Turkey on July 12, Poroshenko started talking with Bartholomew in my presence and then with Erdogan. Erdogan said firmly that he would do everything possible, and we will get autocephaly,” said Dzhemilev.
He also added that he personally spoke about the independence of the Ukrainian Church both with the head of Turkey and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that state.
“First, Erdogan was surprised why I, being a Muslim, was concerned about the issue of Orthodoxy. I answered that it was very important for the independence of our country, and therefore for the Crimean Tatars. He had replied, ”I understood you,'” Dzhemilev shared his memories.
“We had very intense work in this direction, but now with such joy and pleasure I see how the Kremlin is getting mad that we are to receive the Tomos,” he added.
Regarding the assumption that Putin could convince Erdogan to exert pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew to prevent the issuance of the Tomos, Dzhemilev replied, “It's out of the question. Erdogan is not the one that can be pressed.”
He is also convinced that the Russian side cannot currently influence the provision of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by offering Ankara some benefits in exchange, “I think this cannot happen because the decision on autocephaly has been finally adopted.”
Dzhemilev remembered the first conversations with Erdogan concerning the Church. “Then he said something like this: you know, Athens are exerting even more pressure on the Patriarch, the Greek Orthodox Church has close ties with Russia. Of course, Bartholomew is a Turkish citizen, but still their center is Greece. Now, there is a coincidence that Russia and the Greeks got out of touch, so now the situation is favorable for Ukraine,” said the leader of the Crimean Tatars.
As reported, on September 17, exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton, at the meeting with President Petro Poroshenko, said that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is close to the creation of autocephaly.