Monday, July 16, 2007


According to a precedent set by those geniuses at the cutting edge of international jurisprudence, the gavel jockeys of the Turkish Court of Appeal at Ankara, the Oecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, is not Oecumenical. Readers would be pleased to learn however, that the entity is a Patriarchate, that is at least if a subsequent court does not find the following remark to be obiter dicta: “The Patriarchate, which was allowed to remain on Turkish soil, is subject to Turkish laws.”
This unilateral assertion of jurisdiction is a clincher. The Patriarchate has been graciously ‘allowed’ to exist. It is on Turkish-ruled soil and thus subject to Turkish laws. It follows logically then that it cannot be an international organization. The aptness of this legal analysis can be evidenced by a more local analogy: Stars International Reception is situated in the City of Darebin and is subject to its local laws. As such, it cannot reasonably claim to be truly International and thus should not try to hawk its unique services upon others outside the City of Darebin. One can see then, how the hapless General Pants Co, Australia’s leading youth brand apparel retailer, (‘where the young and restless dress’) could conceivably be barred from setting up operations in the Turkish Republic without consent first had in writing and not limiting the generality of the above-mentioned, whereby its assertion of Generality as that pertains to their pants, would certainly be disputed within the narrow confines of the Turkish nation state and legal interpretation of jurisdiction.
The only loophole that seems to exist for the General Pants Co, is the persistent rumour that General Pants was the nom de guerre of one of the Generals behind the 1997 military coup in Turkey, when, after increasing its harshness and frequency of its public warnings to the Islamophilic government of Neçmettin Erbakan, the military rolled their tanks down the streets of Sincan in Ankara, causing Erbakan to step down. Coincidentally enough, the guiding ideology of Erbakan’s party was the Millî Görüş, or ‘National View’ wherein the term ‘national’ is to be understood as ‘monotheistic ecumenism.’ Here then is a clue. How can His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomeos harbour pretensions towards assuming the appellation of ‘Oecumenical’ when in fact, it is Neçmettin Erbakan who is the Ecumenical patriarch (with a small p) of Turkey? The ideology is just not big enough for the both of them.
The directors of the General Pants Co. may argue until they are blue in the face that the Generality of their Pants is well rooted in the high regard and great respect that they command within the fashion industry, the long and rewarding association they have had with dance culture, supporting clubs, dance parties, music, surf and skate events. They may postulate for posterity that as a leading retailer of International (well not in Turkey anyway) and Australian brands specialising in street, denim, skate & surf, they set trends in the youth market, whilst focusing on contemporary demand, thus making their pants indeed General, but they may as well parrot the legally inept reasonings of Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos with regard to the status of the Oecumenical (oops that terrible word again) Patriarchate: “The ecumenical status of the Patriarch of Constantinople is in the foundations of international treaties, the holy rules of Orthodoxy, history and Church tradition. These things do not change and are not altered with judicial decisions based on misinterpretations of the Lausanne treaty.”
Come to think of it, the venerable formulators of the Lausanne Treaty were not possessed of the requisite foresight to include a definitions section that would dispel any dispute about the interpretation of such contentious terms as ‘Oecumenical’ or ‘General.’ The General Pants Co. would in vain insist upon the enforcement of clause 39 of the Lausanne Treaty in order to argue its case before the courts in the Australian patois. This is because though the clause states: “Notwithstanding the existence of the official language, adequate facilities shall be given to Turkish nationals of non-Turkish speech for the oral use of their own language before the Courts .” This is because the words oral use and language have not been defined in the non-existent definitions section of the Treaty.
It is noteworthy to mention that in the signed procès verbal of the Treaty, dated 10 January 1923, İsmet İnönü, the head of the Turkish delegation and subsequent second president of Turkey, called the Patriarch of Constantinople ‘Chef de l’Eglise Greque Orthodoxe,’ that is, the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church. Now, the Patriarchate of Antioch is formally known as the ‘Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. The Patriarchate of Alexandria is formally known as Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is formally known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Collectively, these are the oldest and most venerable Patriarchates of the Greek Orthodox Church (save Rome owing to the Schism), from which all other Patriarchates stem. According to İnönü himself, the Patriarch of Constantinople is the ‘Chef’ or to adopt the Turkish, the başı of the other ‘Rum Ortodoks’ Patrikhanesler. So our Ortodoksbaşı is Oecumenical after all…
To its chagrin, no such admission is afforded to the General Pants Company by the President in the Treaty or in any other ancillary, extrinsic materials. Perhaps this is for the best. For imagine the comedown when an elated General Pants Company barges into the Court at Ankara waving İnönü’s imaginary process verbal in the judges’ faces, only to be told that it not withstanding, just as the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople is not known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople but rather, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Fener (ie. Phanari, the specific suburb where the Patriarchate is situated), the General Pants Company is actually the Specific Pants Company, where only its purveying of ADIDAS Beakenbauer Track Pants is officially recognised, and nothing else.
In its desperation, the General Pants Company could try the approach of the Patriarchate, which could be described as an attempt to create a historical guilt trip in its captors. In the entrance to the Oecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, there is a famous mosaic portraying the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmet II Fatih, awarding a firman to Oecumenical Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios, in which all his previous privileges under the Byzantine Empire were confirmed. It is situated in close proximity to the gate where Mahmud II ordered the hanging of Oecumenical Patriarch Gregory V in 1821. The directors could conceivably stylishly mount a photograph of themselves handing a pair of MC Hammer pants to the last Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed Vahideddin, before their Constantinople store, above a cautionary UN caption that reads: “Can’t touch this.” Regretfully, this approach has not melted the hearts of the die hard Turkish republicans who have built their modern state in spite of and not as a continuation of the Ottoman tradition.
Ultimately, the wretched General Pants Company may just have to resign itself to claiming that notwithstanding the legal eagles of Turkish jurisprudence, it is the spiritual purveyor of a multitude of General pants-related items throughout the world. Millions of faithful look to it for style tips and the setting of trends despite the non-appreciation of its fashion legacy by the Turkish Courts. Let them not be down-hearted. As the great Winston Churchill, a vehement opponent of the Lausanne Treaty once stated: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” There is thus a pants related basis behind the Greek Foreign Ministry’s firm conviction that “above all, recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarch as a spiritual leader is — and has been for centuries — deeply rooted in the conscience of hundreds of millions of Christians, Orthodox or not, worldwide.”
Proving Albert Einstein’s belief that: “If one studies too zealously, one easily loses his pants,” the eye of the storm is to be found elsewhere. For the Turkish Courts are merely following the precedent set down by the Latins, who, in the aftermath of the Second Ecumenical Council refused to accept the third canon which held that the Bishop of Constantinople “shall have primacy of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is the New Rome.” As if this was not enough, they also refused to accept canon 28 of the Third Ecumenical Council which asserted Constantinople’s jurisdiction over the ‘barbarian’ lands, thus making it an ‘Oecumencial Patriarchate.’ About the same time, the thirteenth Council of the Genoese Pants Guild, the Consiglio dell’ Arte da Pantaloni, refused to recognise the General Pants Company’s assumption of the right to sell a general array of pants to the popolo minuto. The ensuing schism in the Pants fraternity between those who in all etymological conscience believed that the garment is question should be referred to in the singular as pant, and those, like our fellow sufferers who sought to refer to it in the plural as pants, had profound repercussions throughout the Genoese trading colonies of Byzantium, influencing the attitudes of sojourners in its domain up until the present day.
To these brave Generals of the Pantaloni we pay homage, for complying with our exhortation to stand fast before the Turkish judges, an experience which captured the attention of the global community in the manner in which the head of the General Pants Company, described in detail, paraphrasing the jocular Robin Williams: “It felt wonderful doing it. But that’s rather like urinating in brow velvet pants. It can feel wonderful but no one will watch.”
To His All Holiness, Oecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomeos I, as he struggles to maintain the two thousand year old presence of the Light of Orthodoxy and Greek tradition in its homeland despite the racist fanaticism of those who would deny the much diminished and ravaged Constantinopolitan community of basic human rights, and have no qualms in barbarously stripping away the dignity of a most venerable and globally (and as the General Pants Company can tell you, hysterical nationalism is soooo last season) we can only say, as we have for the past two thousand years: «Τον δεσπότην και αρχιερέα ημών, Κύριε φύλαττε εις πολλά έτη.»


First published in NKEE on 16 July 2007