Arabic original here.
Patriarch John X Yazigi returned to Beirut this afternoon from Turkey on a private plane put at his disposal by the former Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares, accompanied by the president of Balamand University, former minister Elie Salem and a number of bishops.
He was met in the main reception hall of Rafic Hariri International Airport by the Minister of Defense in the caretaker government, Fayez Ghosn, representing the president of the Republic General Michel Suleiman, the general director of the Fares Institute, General William Majli, representing Issam Fares, and a large number of bishops and dignitaries.
After reviewing a unit of the Internal Security Forces, official greetings were made, during which Yazigi stated, “First of all, I want to express my thanks, esteem, and love for the president of the Republic General Michel Suleiman for sending the dear brother Minister of Defense Fayez Ghosn to welcome us at the airport. I would also like to thank His Excellency Issam Fares for his great concern, constant as usual, in supporting all affairs and matters of the Church. We pray for the wellbeing and strength of all.”
Asked if he broached the topic of the two kidnapped bishops in Syria with Turkish officials, he responded, “The visit we made to Istanbul was in principle churchly. We met with our brother Patriarch Bartholomew and during the visit we expressed our mutual love and cooperation in all Church issues that concern our people as well. We discussed many topics that we hope to follow up on for the good of our people and our country.”
He added, “As for the issue of the bishops, we always say that communications are ongoing, on our part and on the part of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, with all parties and officials that should be communicated with. We hope for the best.”
Asked whether he has received any assurances of their well-being, along with other kidnapping victims, he responded, “They assure us of this and this is what we hope.”
Asked if he asked Turkish officials to continue necessary communications in order to speed their release, he said, “Naturally, as I mentioned, we are in constant contact with all interesting parties. His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul is also in constant contact with all parties on every level on behalf of the kidnapping victims, not only the bishops. We also discussed the situation in our country and how to bring about peace in these lands, in Syria and Lebanon, for the sake of our people in this region, who are good people, for whom we desire all peace and stability and that the language of dialog and coexistence will be the prevailing language for all.”
Asked what his comments are on the current situation in Syria in light of recent developments there, he responded, “We constantly hope that there will be the solution that all are currently striving for. The solution to the Syrian crisis is through dialog and mutual understanding, not through violence or any other language that is incompatible with peace, love, and coexistence.”