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Halki’s Reopening is Not on the Turkish Agenda

Reopening Istanbul’s closed Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary is not being considered by the Turkish government right now, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Aug. 18 on a visit to the Western Thrace region of Greece, seeming to put an end to the various articles and reports that speculated it would once again be open.

On Aug. 7, the Metropolitan of Bursa and chief priest of the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada (Halki) island, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, said Istanbul’s Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary was ready to re-open after being closed four decades, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

When the Supreme Court decided that all higher education facilities had to be connected to a state university in 1971, the Halki Seminary was considered a “private higher education facility.” The school had to be tied to a state university or a state seminary to stay open. As the Patriarchate was unwilling to associate the school with a Turkish university, the seminary was closed down.

Bozdağ visited Turks in the Xanthi region of Western Thrace during the Ramadan Bayram holiday. Bozdağ first visited the mufti of Xanthi, Ahmet Mete, and met with religious scholars in the region. Bozdağ also talked about the matter that “burns’ Turkey” long-delayed membership to the European Union. He said Turkey also embraces EU values and would adopt them. “However in most EU countries there are implications which don’t comply with these values,” Bozdağ said, referring to alleged problems and discrimination against the ‘Turkish minority’ of Xanthi (which Hürriyet Daily refer to as İskeçe).

Turkey’s entrance to the EU has also been hindered by its refusal to admit ships and planes from Cyprus, an EU member, and its continued occupation of the northern third of the island with troops. The country has been seeking admission to the EU for almost a decade, with no sense any progress has been made, especially with opposition from France and Germany. Greece supports Turkey’s admission.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

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