On 10 April 2018, visited President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mladen Ivanic and FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov visited the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, in Istanbul where they were cordially received by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
In their private meeting, at the Patriarchal Office, which lasted for half an hour, President Ivanic and the Ecumenical Patriarch had the opportunity to discuss various issues of the times.
An hour later, in their private meeting at the Patriarchal Office, FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov, accompanied by his wife and son, his colleagues and his Ambassador to Ankara, discussed various subjects and exchanged greetings and gifts for Easter.
In the two above-mentioned meetings the Patriarch was accompanied by the Metropolitans Gennadios of Sassima and Elpidophoros of Proussa, as well as the Secretary in Chief of the Holy and Sacred Synod, Archimandrite Joachim Billis.
On 11 April, a group of professors and graduate students from the Skopje Saint Clement of Ohrid Theological Seminary visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate during their trip to Constantinople and Thessaloniki and where welcomed by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who addressed them, stating that the Orthodox relations should be fair, honest and honest.
The Ecumenical Patriarch also mentioned, among other things, the recent action of the Bulgarian Church to give “ecclesiastical motherhood” to the Macedonian schismatic Church.
“I am thinking about this because I want to be perfectly honest with you. This action of the sister Church of Bulgaria was wrong. It does not help. It complicates things. The Mother Church of all the Balkan peoples is Constantinople. This is what the true history says. What is being discussed is a fictitious mother. And Bulgaria can not introduce you to canonicity, in normal relations with the other Churches. There must be direct, honest and sincere in the inter-Orthodox relations,” the Patriarch stated, adding: “Every time a Synaxis of Orthodox Primates is convened either here or in Chambésy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s attempt is to put all subjects on the table and to discuss them with honesty and sincerity. We did so regarding the Holy and Great Council, which we prepared together with all the Churches. The last Synaxis of the Orthodox Primates took place in January 2016 in Chambésy and we discussed, even with some difficulties sometimes, all the issues, and we prepared the texts that would be approved by the Holy and Great Council. We prepared the Rules of Operation and decided: “Let us meet in June on Crete”. Everyone signed them and spent three, four months without saying something new, without complaining, and at the last moment four Churches decided not to come. But the Council took place. But that does not show honesty and sincerity on the part of these four Churches, since we have agreed and we have signed the decisions together. ”
The Patriarch also spoke about the visit by the President of FYROM with his family and his escort to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 10 April and the good and friendly relations they have with each other as they often meet in international conferences organized in Istanbul.
The Patriarch encouraged students to visit Constantinople and the Headquarters of the First See of the Orthodox Church. “Know that we love you and come whenever you want in this beautiful and historic City, where are the Courtyards of the Church Mother, from which you, and all the Balkan peoples, and Russia, received baptism and the light of Christianity . Therefore, every time you come here to us in Istanbul, you do not have to feel that you are strangers, that you are guests, but that you are at home. We have many hopes for you and your ministry in the Church in the future. These are true despite the fact that there are currently problems between your country and Greece, and between your Church and all other Orthodox Churches. Precisely, we count on the new generation of theologians and clergy, which can help to strengthen the relations of neighboring peoples and between the Orthodox Churches. Today, our generation, the older generation, will do everything we can to improve the situation, especially our Ecumenical Patriarchate, which has the coordinating role in the transcendental things, and after our generation you will take over and you will continue, cultivate and augment these good relations between our peoples and our Churches.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch offered as a blessing to the teachers and students books of the history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as the official texts of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, Easter eggs and sacred souvenirs and invited them with a fatherly affection to eat together in the Patriarchate refectory.