RIGHTS > Time ‘right’ to reopen Halki

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency

A senior Greek Orthodox cleric says everything is ready for the reopening of the Halki seminary. ‘Let the school be opened however our state deems fitting’ he says

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The Greek community is hopeful that Halki will reopen, says Lambriniadis. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Greek community is hopeful that Halki will reopen, says Lambriniadis. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Although no date has been given, Istanbul’s Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary is ready to reopen after being closed for four decades, a senior cleric has said. “Let the school be opened however our state deems fitting.”

“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,” Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, metropolitan of Bursa and chief priest of the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada island, recently told Anatolia news agency. “We believe that the time has come; however our state sees it, they should act thusly.”

No independence demands

Lambriniadis said the school had always been under the regulations of the Ministry of Education. “We never requested to be an independent school or not to be under any regulation. Let the school be opened in any way our state and education laws deem fitting. It does not make any difference for us whether the Higher Education Board (YÖK) or the Ministry of Education controls the school.”

Until today, the patriarchate had insisted that the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary should function under the Ministry of Education without being associated with a university and that the admittance of foreign teachers and students should be allowed.

When the Supreme Court decided that all higher education facilities would be connected to a state university in 1971, the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary was regarded as a “private higher education facility.” It was declared that the school had to be tied to a state university or a state seminary to stay open.

As the patriarchate was unwilling to connect the school to a Turkish university, the seminary was closed down. The patriarchate maintained the same stance until today, since they said the school was established as a boarding school to raise pastors, therefore if the seminary was tied to a university and the students left at the end of the school day, the school would not serve its purpose.

Furthermore there were concerns that if the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary, where only Orthodox theology is taught, became a part of a university, students of Protestant, Armenian, Catholic and Syriac origin would be admitted and as a result the school could not keep teaching only Orthodox theology.

On the other hand the Turkish government claimed that if the seminary was not connected to a university and solely taught “Orthodox theology” it would spark some religious orders in the country to ask to open schools that taught their respective theologies as well.


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ahmet babagan

8/17/2012 11:12:38 AM

Time to reopen Chalki seminary. Time to give back to the 120.000 Greeks their houses/business in Istanbul (>5 Billion USD worth) which were taken with killings and pogroms 1955, racist religious taxation and laws banning Greeks on inheriting their own property to their children. Time to proceed to democracy

illawarrior hill

8/14/2012 7:59:24 PM

I live in Australia. Until 1788 there was no recorded western "civilisation". In contrast, Europe and the Middle East, have centuries of everyone over-running everyone else, at some time. Thus they are constantly arguing over land, borders, religion, politics, and any other difference they can find.There will NEVER be a solution that satisfies both victor & vanquished... when those roles have changed over time. It is time to live & let live. Listen to the John Lennon song "Imagine"!


8/12/2012 4:11:10 PM

Dear Turkish Friends, according to my opinion there is a very big misunderstanding. Muslims of Greek Thrace are Muslims having different origin, i.e. some of them are Turkσ, some other are pomak (of Bulgarian origin) and the less of them are roma. I understand that is very fascinating Turkey to want to name all of them Turks, but this is very convenient only for the nationalists' plans. Because of this discrimination 2.000.000, changed country 90 years ago.Same ideas, unfortunately, survive...

Silent Resident

8/7/2012 10:29:36 PM

@Ismail Demir: I agree. I am not saying the the Greek politicians are good guys. Neither the Turkish politicians were. And this is reflected to the numbers: 120.000 Turks live now in West Thrace, while in Istanbul, the 200.000 Greeks at 1950 are reduced to only 3.500 today. Greek minority of Turkey is basically GONE. Turkish minority of Greece, thankfully remains alive today. And of course Halki is not limited to local people only. Istanbul was and always is the Orthodox Christianity's "Mecca".

ismail demir

8/7/2012 9:31:27 PM

silent resident, Turkish religious leader does not destroy mosques by preventing repairing them or confiscate money of the religious property as greece ministry of education does in West Thrace.And all the history orthodox churchs are not independent as you claim, Ottoman empire appointed leaders of the orthodox christians.If halki will be open students should be turkish citizens, since Turkey has no obligation to educate foreign students.

Silent Resident

8/7/2012 7:56:29 PM

The Turks of Western Thrace are governed by the mutual terms agreed in the Treaty of Lausanne which makes clear that the Muslim populations regardless of the country they live in, will enjoy freedom of religion and their religious leaders to be appointed by the equivalent Ministry of Education of each state. Also the same for the Seminaries: they are by nature independent (as they did for centuries years already) from state: the Clergymen, regardless of country, are authorized to run Seminaries.

Chris Tahos

8/7/2012 7:46:53 PM

@ DutchTurk .According to Lausanne Treaty 1923 , the muslim population of Western Thrace and the christian population of Istanbul, Gokceada and Bozcaada were not included in population exchange.As you see religion was the criteria of discrimination, not ethnicity.During 6/7 September 1955 the ruthless pogrom against them, forced the vast majority to abandon the country.So don't complain about "supposed to be rights".The best way for Turkey to help , would have been by protecting the christians.

Silent Resident

8/7/2012 4:37:27 PM

@ DutchTurk: If you want the Turks of Western Thrace (Greece) to be able choose their religious leader, why you don't let the Turks of EASTERN Thrace (Turkey) to elect their own religious leaders? In Greece, we use the Turkish model and you the Turks are not happy with? In Turkey, the religious leaders aren't by chosen by populace but by the Turkish Ministry of Education. Same goes for Greece - here, the religious leaders of the Turkish minority are chosen by the Greek Ministry of Education...


8/7/2012 12:25:13 PM

Right time to reopen Halki. Right time to recognize Turks of Western Thrace as Turks. The Turks of Western Thrace can't even choose their religious leader, while the Greek patriarch of Istanbul is chosen by his own people. At one side the seminary is closed at the other side the ethnic identity of 150 000 Turks is denied and no EU country tell Greece to stop the nonsense of Middle Age mentality. That is what's called hypocrisy.

Red Tail

8/7/2012 11:46:14 AM

This is in any practical sense a totally irrelevant question. A few kids out of a population of 70 million will go to school there, so it simply has no impact on the society. But it has an enormous impact on our image abroad and presently it gives us a lot of bad will. From a pragmatic point of view we should open it. It will improve our image greatly, and will not cost us anything. I have never seen good PR beeing earned with so little effort before.
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