Turkey replies to Greek criticism on Halki recalling lack of rights of Turkish minority in Greece
Daily News Photo/ Emrah GürelTurkey responded the Greek government’s criticism about the re-opening of the Halki Seminary by recalling the lack of the Turkish minority’s rights in Greece.
The situation of the Greek Orthodox citizens in Turkey are more progressive than the rights of the Turkish minority in Greece, spokesperson of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Levent Gümrükçü said in a written statement.
Reforms made for the minorities of Turkey were part of a comprehensive reform process in Turkey, said the statement, adding that the Turkish state did not recognize any differences among its citizens.
The Turkish foreign ministry (MFA) restated the problems of the Turkish minority in Greece as follows:
“The Turkish minority in Greece is not able to elect their own religious leadership, they do not have the right to declare their ethnic identities, they cannot advance their own schools, the right to control their foundations was taken from their hands, and they face pressure in their media outlets. The Turkish minority cannot have education in Turkish.”
“If a country, which does not even obey the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, acts in the direction taken by Turkey in the field of minority rights, rather than giving advice, then it will help make minorities a bridge of friendship between two countries,” said the statement.
In a statement on Oct. 3, the Greek Foreign Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Koutras said,”...the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the re-opening of the Halki Seminary are not matters of bilateral Greek-Turkish negotiation, but matters of respect for the rights and religious freedoms of Turkish citizens themselves...”
Opening Halki ‘not a big deal’: PM
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his position regarding the Halki Seminary, highlighting that opening the Greek theological school was not a difficult step for the government but was subject to Greece’s response to Ankara’s demands regarding the election of muftis in Western Thrace.
“They are asking why you don’t open the Halki Seminary. For us, opening the Halki Seminary is not a big deal. But I have 150,000 people of my kin in Western Thrace. Why you are the one who appoints their muftis? Why don’t you let them choose [their mufti]?” Erdoğan said during an address in Adana’s Kozan district.
He said his government had returned the confiscated properties of Greeks, Armenians and Jews.
“Why? Because we wanted to correct a mistake. Protecting the rights of Muslims and citizens of other faiths is the duty of the state,” he said.