Patriarch Bartholomew conveys requests on Greek orphanage and Halki seminary to Erdoğan
Erdinç Çelikkan - ANKARA
Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Dimitri Bartholomew conveyed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan their community’s requests on the historical Greek orphanage and the Halki seminary in Istanbul, sources in Ankara have said.
Erdoğan hosted Bartholomew in April at the presidential complex in Ankara for more than half an hour.
In the meeting, joined by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Bartholomew requested support from Erdoğan for the protection and restoration of the Greek orphanage on Istanbul’s Büyükada Island, which is deemed to face immediate risk of collapse.
Büyükada, formerly known as Prinkipo, is the largest of Istanbul’s Princes’ islands.
The Greek orphanage has been included in the “Seven Most Endangered” program for 2018 by Europa Nova, the leading heritage organization in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute.
The building was designed by French architect Alexandre Vallaury in 1899 and functioned as an orphanage until its closure in 1964. Spread across five storeys, the building is comprised of 206 rooms. It is considered the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world.
Patriarch Bartholomew also raised the question of reopening the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada, another one of the Princes’ Islands, according to sources.
He thanked Erdoğan for the returning of properties to the minority communities, the reopening of Greek schools on Gökçeada, the largest Aegean island, and helping to revive religious ceremonies at churches across Anatolia.
However, he also pointed out that the population of the Greek community on Gökçeada Island has decreased to 3,000, requesting the naturalization process to be easier for the descendants of Greeks who were once citizens of Turkey.
The requests will be taken into consideration, Erdoğan replied, adding that minority communities should not feel like foreigners in the country.