Halki Seminary discussed at Merkel-Erdoğan meet

Halki Seminary discussed at Merkel-Erdoğan meet

Halki Seminary discussed at Merkel-Erdoğan meet

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C-R) and German Chancelor (C-L) met with spiritual leaders in Ankara. AA photo

The issue of Heybeliada Halki Seminary was on the agenda during talks in Ankara on Feb. 25 during which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with various spiritual leaders, according to sources.

A source who did not want to be named told the Hürriyet Daily News that the Halki Seminary issue was opened for discussion between Erdoğan, Merkel and Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew. “The Patriarch brought the topic to the agenda. Merkel said Germany was ready to provide the necessary support with [Greek Prime Minister] Samaras, while Erdoğan said they were ready to take responsibility for the reopening of the school on the condition that Greece would take two steps. However, he did not say what these steps are,” the source said.

It is believed that Erdoğan was referring to the possible building of a mosque in Athens and the Greek government’s attitude toward Muslims, particularly regarding the needs of muftis in the northeastern Western Thrace region, where an important community of Muslim Turks live.

According to a statement issued by Turkey’s Armenians Patriarchate, Acting Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan reminded the leaders during the meeting that the Patriarchate is not a legal entity and thus has difficulties obtaining property. Archbishop Ateşyan also thanked the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for their concern toward minority issues, the statement said.

The Halki Seminary was opened in 1844 and served as a school of theology for years. However, as a result of a 1971 Constitutional Court ruling, all private institutions of higher education either became part of state universities or were closed down. Halki’s Board of Trustees refused to become part of Istanbul University. Consequently, the seminary section of the Halki school was closed down. The high school section is still open, but no longer has students.