On July 24th the Representative of the State Duma of the Russian Federation paid a working visit in Turkey in order to take care of organizational matters regarding the celebration of the Holy Liturgy at the Monastery of Panagia Sumela in Trabzon on August 15th 2010.
During his visit, Ivan Savvidis, met with representatives of local authorities, the mayor of Matsouka, near which the Monastery is located, the Prefect of Trabzon, as well as Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Trabzon.
The main issues discussed during the meetings were issues regarding the safety of pilgrims and the handling of organizational matters of the upcoming event.
The Prefect of Trabzon, Recep Kızılcık, assured the Russian delegation that the authorities will take all necessary actions in order to ensure the safe stay of the orthodox pilgrims in Turkey.
During the discussions the Turkish side confirmed that it does not object towards the celebration of the Holy Liturgy in the interior of the Monastery of Panagia Sumela. Nevertheless, despite the Turkish law prohibiting the movement of priests outside churches, of all religions, in their priest attire (excluding their leaders), orthodox priests who will arrive in Trabzon for their participation at the Holy Liturgy will be able to wear their attire throughout the day.
As the pilgrimage coincides with this year’s Ramadan, the Turkish authorities expressed their hope that orthodox pilgrims will be understanding towards this and refrain from eating before the public, as well as nationalist messages.
Mr. Savvidis assured the Turkish part that the following pilgrimage is based on faith and has nothing to do with politics. “I am certain that humanity must not fear pilgrims, whether they are Christian, Muslim or Buddhists. A man of faith addresses all his thoughts to God. I guarantee that the organized delegation of Russian pilgrims will show respect towards the customs of the local population. My wish is that the following day, after the celebration of the liturgy, we will be equally pleased by the fact that the event took place in an orderly manner.” Said Ivan Savvidis.
During his visit, Ivan Savvidis, received an invitation for the celebration of the Ramadan.