The Asia News website reports today (January 8, 2011) that the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, Bartholomew I, received the deputy prime minister of the Turkish government, Bulent Arinc, who is in charge of minority affairs, on January 6.
The visit is the first in 58 years, when the prime minister at that time, Adnan Menderes, paid a visit to then Patriarch Athenagoras.
This week's visit is especially significant, because it occurred one month after the legal recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Turkish authorities with the restitution of the deeds of property of the Buyukada Orphanage.
At the end of the meeting, Arinc stated, "I hope that my visit here will mark the beginning of a new era. As a government, we are obliged to meet the needs of these citizens who have a centuries-old presence in these lands."
The meeting will most likely serve as a harbinger for a closer and a more harmonious relationship between the Turkish government and the Patriarch of Constantinople for many years.