RIGHTS > Halki’s reopening ‘not on the agenda’

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency

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Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ. AA photo

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ. AA photo

Reopening Istanbul’s Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary is not on the agenda of the government right now, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Aug 18 on a visit to the Western Thrace region of Greece.

On Aug. 7, the metropolitan of Bursa and chief priest of the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada island, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, said Istanbul’s Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary was ready to reopen after being closed four decades, the Hürriyet Daily News reported. “Everything is ready for the reopening of the seminary. No specific pledge or date has been given to us, but we believe the time has come for it because public opinion, the media, the state and even the opposition are ready. We are hopeful, excited and waiting,” Lambriniadis recently told Anatolia news agency.

When the Supreme Court decided that all higher education facilities had to be connected to a state university in 1971, the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary was considered a “private higher education facility.” The school had to be tied to a state university or a state seminary to stay open. As the patriarchate was unwilling to associate the school with a Turkish university, the seminary was closed down.

Bozdağ visited Turks in the İskeçe region of Western Thrace during the Ramadan Bayram holiday. Bozdağ first visited the mufti of İskeçe, Ahmet Mete, and met with religious scholars in the region. Following the visit, during his press statement to Turkish and Greek journalists, Bozdağ said, “It was impossible to destroy the beliefs of the people by force.”

EU’s ‘double standard’

Bozdağ said the European Union had a “double standard.” The minister said minorities in the Western Thrace region of the Greece – which is an EU country – were having a series of problems regarding the issue of belief, but the EU was neglecting this issue. “There are many issues that the EU should be aware of in Western Thrace, and one of them is the issue of having a mufti directorate. The EU has a double standard in its perspective on this region. If they deny this, then there must be some problem with their eyes,” Bozdağ said.

Bozdağ said EU values are the values that Turkey also embraces, accepts and would like to adopt. “However in most EU countries there are implications which don’t comply with these values,” Bozdağ said. “While we are trying to realize these values, it is already a duty of the EU to make an effort in its own member countries. EU values should be enacted by everyone,” he added.


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Notice on comments

Nikos T.

8/25/2012 5:05:30 PM

Most politics in Turkey must believe that they are speaking to lobotomized people. What a SCHOOL has got to do with a "mufti", a religious law supervisor? The only acknowledged law in Greece is the public law system. You can have any other kind of laws in your country but don't expect the same in other civilized countries, where people is educated and can not be manipulated by religious fanaticism.

mara mcglothin

8/20/2012 7:57:46 PM

RETAIL Turkey sure doesn't know when to pick and choose your battles. This is a no brainer, so you would think the AKP could get it, but...not! The boorish behavior is still surprising even though you expect this kind of backward mentality.


8/20/2012 6:14:17 PM

For how long is the Turkish government going to keep the Halki Ecumenical Seminary from resuming its divine function? Why are Turks creating such a bad image for themselves? A real shame indeed...Regards

Michael Malloy

8/20/2012 4:51:43 PM

I am not Greek Orthodox but it was the Greek Orthodox Church which gave me my first exposure to the true faith. I would very much like to see the seminary opened again as well as freedom to worship for all Christians in Turkey.


8/20/2012 1:17:11 PM

As long as the recognition of the Turks of Western Thrace as Turks, is not on the agenda of Greece. Opening Halki seminary is also not on the agenda of Turkey. AS EASY AS THAT !!!! Turkey should also choose the Greek patriarch of Istanbul themselves, since Greece chooses the Imam of the Turks themselves. EU is hypocrite to point out the issues of the Greeks in Turkey, while they keep silent about the ethnic denial of TURKS.

Ozgur Erhan

8/20/2012 1:02:24 PM

I seem to remember that in Greece, contrary to the country's treaties with Turkey, imams are chosen and appointed by the Greek government. Isn't that disgraceful? And why should there be a seminary in Turkey outside the Turkish legal system and higher educational structure for a minority of less than 5,000. Everybody else has to obey the law. Why does the world think that Greeks in Turkey shouldn't have too?

ahmet babagan

8/20/2012 11:36:11 AM

Out of the 120.000 strong Greek-Ottoman community in 1953 no more than 3.000 old people are left in Istanbul. All their property has been confiscated, my father's house has become a hotel owned by strangers. Since based on the law passed back then no Christian can inherit property in Turkey.Some small portion of the community had to turn muslim. Still the plan was to get rid of all the Greek-speaking community We moved to the Thrace area to see the complete opposite happening in Greek soil.

Peter Lambson

8/20/2012 10:09:22 AM

How is this official even allowed to come to Greece and pretend to preach about human rights when successive Turkish governments have been trying to suffocate the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the Turkish republic's founding? The fact that the deputy PM even has a sizable Turkish minority to visit in Greece speaks volumes about the democracy deficit in Turkey vis-a-vis Greece. Where are Istanbul's Greeks? Prove you're actually a democracy, Turkey--open the school!

Red Tail

8/20/2012 9:19:30 AM

This problem around Halki is soooo easy to fix. It does not cost Turkey anything and neither does it pose any risks etc. Given the small size of students, this school is totally insignificant. BUT it gives Turkey an enormous bad will abroad. Why not just open it and get rid of the problem? No costs but a lot of benefits, to me it seems to be the easiest decision in the world. Ali Birand once wrote that Turks are masters at shooting themselves in the foot. I believe he is right in this case.

Johanna Dew

8/20/2012 5:39:16 AM

Unbelievable the street-fighting-jack mentality and language by this Turkish minister. Oversensitive for all forms of critic they throw you in jail but them selves freely using the most deceitful rhetoric. How many pogroms did the Greeks organized, how many properties did they stole from Greek-Turks, how much rights were taken off, how many people left because of intimidation by the Greek state?
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