US Secretary of
State Kerry meets Patriarch Vartholomaios, urges Turkey to re-open Halki
US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Turkey on Sunday to re-open Orthodox
clergy schools near Istanbul that authorities have kept closed for more than 40
"It is our hope that the Halki seminary will open,» Kerry said during a press
conference in Istanbul after two days of talks on the Syrian crisis and the
Mideast peace process.
Kerry said he discussed religious freedom in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey and
the possible re-opening of the theological schools in talks with Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The Halki seminary, where Orthodox clergy used to train, is located on an
island off Istanbul and was closed in 1971, after Turkey fell out with Greece
Kerry also met on Sunday the Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the
spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians.
Both the United States and the European Union, which Turkey aspires to join,
have increased pressure on Ankara to re-open the seminary as well as introducing
further rights for religious minorities in the new constitution it is currently
Ankara says it is also in favour of such a move but cites procedural issues
for the delay in implementing it.
Vartholomaios told Kerry that the Turkish government had improved its
treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate recently.
“Over the last few months and years, there has been progress in the
government’s behaviour towards the Patriarchate and more generally towards
minorities,” he said.
“Of course, within this framework, we expect solutions to our existing
problems, such as the re-opening of the Halki Seminary, which is a great need
for our Patriarchate, for its present and future.”
[AFP & Kathimerini English
ekathimerini.com , Monday April 22, 2013 (10:10)
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