Vartholomaios meets Erdogan

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to allow the reopening of the crucial Orthodox seminary of Halki and expressed concern about the state of Turkey’s dwindling Greek community during a meeting in Ankara yesterday. The Athens News Agency quoted Vartholomaios as saying the talks, the first meeting between the Istanbul-based patriarch and the PM since Erdogan took over in March, could «prove historic.» The patriarchate is desperate to secure the reopening of the seminary, which Turkey closed down in 1971, as only Turkish nationals who are Halki graduates can rise to occupy the 1,600-year-old patriarchal throne. «We met with understanding,» Vartholomaios said after the meeting. «We were told that [the Turkish government] will approach our problems with good intentions, and we depart with this hope. We hope to secure concrete results, as soon as possible.» The patriarch also presented the PM with an outline of the Greek community’s problems.