Patriarch ups stakes, calls on Turkey to open seminary

The Turkish government must show respect for international treaties and its Orthodox Christian minority’s human rights and allow the country’s only Orthodox seminary to reopen, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios told worshipers yesterday on a little island off Istanbul. The patriarch said that state permission for the Halki Seminary – founded in 1844 but closed down in 1971 by the Turkish government – to function would be a victory of reason and justice over what is irrational and unjust. Speaking at the opening of the Church of the Holy Trinity within the seminary grounds, Vartholomaios said Ankara could not maintain for much longer its refusal to reopen the seminary. As patriarchs must be Turkish citizens, the only seminary in the country is crucial to their education. What will the Turkish government reply to the rulers of civilized countries when they ask why Christian citizens, as opposed to Muslims, lack the possibility to have their religious functionaries educated? he said. What about minority rights, and the Lausanne Treaty that guarantees them? Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou is due in Nicosia tomorrow for a two-day visit during which he will consult with top Cypriot officials on the prospect of a new round of talks.

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