Arınç Asks Greece To Reopen Halki Seminary

Istanbul, May 15, 2013

Greece ought to take some steps forward to address grievances of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace. This would as a result help the Turkish government towards the reopening of a Greek Orthodox theological seminary on the island of Heybeliada near İstanbul, according to a senior Turkish Cabinet member.

In an exclusive interview with Today΄s Zaman, Bülent Arınç, Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman, called on both the Greek Patriarchate together with the US to actually press the Greek government to play its part in facilitating steps to reopen the seminary.

“…It will also partially happen due to the US persistence. We are waiting not only for these two, but for anybody who has an influence on Greece to come out and say: ‘Do not do injustice to the Muslim Turkish minority in Western Thrace, give them their rights. When these rights are given, Turkey will be more comfortable,” he explained.

Arınç highlighted that the Turkish government has been positive towards the seminary issue, stressing that Turkey recognizes the training of clergy for the Greek Orthodox Church as a “fundamental right.”

He also noted, “There are some reasons why this issue has not been resolved yet. Partially, we are waiting for some initiatives to be carried out by the other side. Secondly, the status we are contemplating for the seminary is not totally accepted by the Patriarchate.”

On the other side, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman, Grigoris Delavekuras, said that such a decision would be a positive sign of the Turkish government’s intentions and will. Moreover, in response to Arınç’s statements, Delavekuras stressed that the Greek government was now awaiting steps from Ankara.

He also stated,“It would be preferable that these sort of statements that do not contribute to pursuing and reinforcing the atmosphere of agreement between our countries cease.”


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