Turkey signals reopening of Greek Orthodox Theological School of Halki

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Turkey has signalled the reopening of the Greek Orthodox Theological School of Halki, which has been closed since 1971.

According to Daily Sabah, Turkey’s Minister of National Education Yusuf Tekin paid a visit recently to the Greek Orthodox seminary in Heybeliada off the Istanbul coast.

Tekin said after his visit that he would like to see the Halki Theological School reopen, but the final decision would be made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

“We simply implement their decisions. Personally, I desire the opening of the seminary to reflect Turkey’s democratic maturity and our viewpoint on secularity,” Tekin said.

Minister of National Education (front) is accompanied on a tour of the building of a high school where the Halki seminary is also located, Istanbul, Turkey, May 28, 2024. Photo: AA Photo.
Minister of National Education (front) is accompanied on a tour of the building of a high school where the Halki seminary is also located, Istanbul, Turkey, May 28, 2024. Photo: AA Photo.

He added that President Erdogan had sent him to visit the Greek Orthodox seminary to “explore” and report back methods that could be applied if Turkey decides to reopen it.

The seminary, which used to train priests for Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, an Istanbul-based religious entity with millions of followers from around the world, was closed in the 1970s after implementing a law ordering religious and military training institutions into full state control. It was part of a string of policies targeting minorities, dating back to the early years of the republic.

The issue gained renewed attention during the recent meeting between Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Erdogan in Ankara in May 2024. Mitsotakis brought up the Greek Orthodox seminary in conversation with Erdogan who reportedly hinted that it may be reopened if the Greek authorities improve the conditions of Muslim minorities in Western Thrace.

Source: Daily Sabah

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