‘Open Halki’ not a threat to Turkey, minister says
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AA photoEU Minister Egemen Bağış said yesterday that the re-opening of Halki Seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeliada Island would not pose a threat to Turkey, adding that he hopes Greece would also take positive steps, keeping their responsibilities in mind.
“I don’t see the re-opening of the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada Island as a threat to Turkey. I believe that it will enrich Turkey,” Bağış told reporters following a meeting with the Turkish Contractors Union.
“Turkey has taken very important steps in this matter,” said Bağış, pointing out that 10 years ago, it would have been unimaginable to re-open the seminary, return property to minorities, or hold a meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew in Parliament.
“However, it is time for Greece -- a democracy by EU standards -- to take their responsibilities into consideration in their actions. Even if it isn’t on the principle of reciprocity, it would be significant if Greece took steps of good will,” Bağış said, emphasizing that neither Greek President Karolos Papoulias, nor Prime Minister George Papandreou, have kept the promises they have made to Turkey.
“We hope that the problems of our Muslim brothers and sisters living in western Thrace, as well as the problems of our Orthodox citizens in Turkey, are solved,” Bağıs added.