On 15 March 2017,Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople/Istanbul as part of an official visit to Turkey.He was accompanied by a number of other officials,including Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistion;Minister of Agriculture Taras Kutovoy;Minister of Education Liliya Hrynevych;and Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Andrii Sibiha.Mr.Groysman was welcomed in the Patriarchate courtyard by Archimandrite Vissarion,archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,in accordance with protocol.*
The Prime Minister was then received by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,with whom he had a long and cordial discussion.Also in attendance were His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France;His Eminence Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna,Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod;and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (Ecumenical Patriarchate).*
Prime Minister Groysman praised His All-Holiness for supporting the steps leading to a unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church:
Ukrainians aspire to a single Church,and your role is very important,he told the Patriarch.We have deep respect for Your Holiness and for your support in the efforts leading to the unified Ukrainian Orthodoxy.*
Currently there are three branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;but only one,the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate),is recognised by the other Orthodox Churches.*
For his part,Patriarch Bartholomew thanked the Ukrainian people for their deep faith and fidelity to the Church:
We pray that the Ukrainian people will be united in one Church.Mother Church of Constantinople will help you to receive such a united Church.We can be optimistic about the future.We greet the entire beloved Ukrainian nation from the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate not as foreigners;but as beloved spiritual children of the Mother Church.Spiritual relations that unite the Mother Church with Ukrainians never disappeared.We are close to you,especially when it is hard.We accompany you with our prayers and blessings,the Ecumenical Patriarch said.*
Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have made several recent visits to Ukraine to further the quest for Church unity.