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Hurriyet Daily News reports on Halki seminary should be opened: Gov’t spokesman

The Hurriyet Daily News recently reported on 'Halki seminary should be opened: Gov't spokesman.'

The Hurriyet Daily News is the oldest current English-language daily in Turkey. The published article can be read in its entirety below.


Halki seminary should be opened: Gov't spokesman
3/7/2013

Read this article on the Hurriyet Daily News

Heybeliada Halki Seminary should be opened and this is a humanitarian right, Deputy PM Arınç tells a Berlin conference also attended by representatives of the minorities in Turkey. Arınç says its is not a favor, also apologizing the community leaders for the things that happened in the past.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said the Heybeliada Halki Seminary should be reopened to educate clerics for the Orthodox community, saying "minorities have the same rights as us" while speaking at a conference in Berlin on March 5, Anatolia news agency reported.

"We accept that there is a necessity for clerics in the Heybeliada Halki Seminary for the Greek Orthodox Patriarch or the Orthodox community, and a school is needed for these [clerics] to be educated. We know there are [those needs]," said Arınç, responding to a question from Germany's Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan Augustinos Labardankis at a Berlin conference. "Therefore, this school certainly has to be opened and clerics should be educated here again," said Arınç, during a conference titled "Muslims, Jews, Christians, Peace is Possible - Examples for Peaceful Coexistence in Past and Present - Perspectives for the Future" in Berlin.

He also said articles were being added to the Foundations Law for the return of property to minority communities. "We do not return these as a favor. These were already yours, but taken from you in some ways. We see this as a humanitarian right, a holy value of your belief. We apologize to all of you for those things that happened in the past," Arınç said, at the conference organized by the International and Intercultural Dialogue Institute.

However, he also criticized the Greek government for not allocating the same rights to the Turkish community living in Greece, saying that associations were even banned from using the world "Turkish" in their names.

"The claims that Muslims cannot choose their mufti and that imams are nominated by the state, as well as claims that foundations cannot own property, discrimination is practiced in schools, and mosques are not allowed in certain places, are all right," he said.

"Still, this issue is not a reciprocity issue. We should not entertain the idea that 'If Greece does not do this then we should not do it either,'" he added. The head of the Association for the Support of Greek Community Foundations (RUMVADER), Andon Parisyanos, told the Daily News yesterday that it was incomprehensible as to how the issue had not yet been resolved in response to Arınç's remarks.

'Unknown reasons?'

"I do not understand why this issue cannot be resolved. It is always on the agenda, there might be unknown reasons for not opening [the Halki]," he said.

"We do not understand why the Halki Seminary issue is represented as if it is a Turkish-Greek issue, but this perception is wrong. Halki Seminary is in this land, so that it is an issue for the patriarch," Parisyanos told the Daily News. "They [government] might be hesitating from the reactions of certain circles. Otherwise, I do not see any other problems." Recalling the efforts of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to solve the problems of minority communities, Parisyanos asked: "Given all these goodwill, why wouldn't the government give Halki Seminary its old status?"

Laki Vingas, who is in charge of minority foundations in Turkey's Foundations Directorate General, Istanbul Metropolitan Mor Filüksinos, Yusuf Çetin from the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Turkey's Jewish Community head İshak İbrahimzadeh attended the conference. Upon a question on the cancellation of the participation of Israel's ambassador to Germany's in the conference, Arınç said he was sad for this situation. Yakov Hadas-Handelsman canceled his participation citing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's comments on Zionism. Last week, Erdoğan likened Zionism to fascism in a Vienna conference.

The head of the Association for the Support of Greek Community Foundations (RUMVADER), Andon Parisyanos, told the Daily News yesterday that it was incomprehensible as to how the issue had not yet been resolved in response to Arınç's remarks.

"I do not understand why this issue cannot be resolved. It is always on the agenda, there might be unknown reasons for not opening [the Halki]," he said.

"We do not understand why the Halki Seminary issue is represented as if it is a Turkish-Greek issue, but this perception is wrong. Halki Seminary is in this land, so that it is an issue for the patriarch," Parisyanos told the Daily News.

"They [government] might be hesitating from the reactions of certain circles. Otherwise, I do not see any other problems."

Recalling the efforts of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to solve the problems of minority communities, Parisyanos asked: "Given all these goodwill, why wouldn't the government give Halki Seminary its old status?"

Vercihan Ziflioğlu contributed to this report.