Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis carried out a historic official visit to the island of Imvros on Friday, the first ever to the island by a Greek foreign minister, to attend events marking the 50th anniversary of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's ordainment and the 20th anniversary of his enthronement as Ecumenical Patriarch.
Born Dimitrios Arhondidis in February 1940 on Imvros, he was ordained on August 13, 1961 to the Holy Diaconate (deacon), receiving the ecclesiastical name Bartholomew, he entered the priesthood in October 1969, and was enthroned as Ecumenical Patriarch in November 1991.
Lambrinidis, who was met by the Ecumenical Patriarch and Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imvros and Tenedos, reiterated that Greece stands at their side and does not forget them.
He said that positive steps have been taken in recent years by the Turkish government of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding that contributing to this was the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey being achieved with cautious steps.
Lambrinidis said that the effort will continue so that the improvement in the climate, which is being encouraged by Greece firmly and consistently, will have tangible results.
Turkey's rapprochement with the EU has also contributed, he continued, adding that Turkey's full accession to the EU, after completion of all the requirements, will be good for Greece, for Turkey and for the entire region and its peoples.
Receiving Lambrinidis on his arrival, Patriarch Bartholomew said he was coming "as an angel of peace, the peace that we have so much missed in the last decades of the history of our island".
The Patriarch expressed his pleasure over the recently improved climate in bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey, adding that Lambrinidis came to "contribute and enhance this improvement as the new foreign minister of Greece" and wished him success in his endeavours.
Bartholomew said that success was assured since Greece and Turkey both shared a desire for peace and good neighbour relations.
"The Aegean can and must become...a sea that unites the two peoples - and the ships that cross the waters of the Aegean must carry not the tools of war and destruction but messages of love and peace," he added.