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Erdogan Uses Christian Seminary As Chip in Talks With Greece

Is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan trying to impose authority over Muslim leaders in Greece?
Metropolitan Apostolos Daniilidis, an Orthodox bishop at the monastery attached to the Halki school, is seen at the "Tracing Istanbul", an exhibition of works by Greek artists, at the Greek Orthodox seminary in Heybeliada island near Istanbul September 4, 2010. An Istanbul seminary closed in 1971 is hosting its first public event in 40 years, raising hopes it may shortly be reopened by Turkey and once again educate priests for the Greek Orthodox community. The European Union and the United States have press

On March 25, 2012, US President Barack Obama congratulated Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his decision to reopen the Theological School of Halki. The Halki seminary, the main theological school of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, was shut down by the Turkish government in 1971. For the last couple of years, the AKP (Justice and Development Party) raised the hopes of Orthodox Christians all around the world that the seminary was to reopen. Many were sure the democratization package of Sept. 30 would realize this dream. It did not, and indeed now the possibility looks even less likely.

When asked about Halki, Erdogan and his ministers, particularly Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, EU Minister Egemen Bagis and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, made it clear that Halki was deliberately kept out of the package. Erdogan reiterated that the reopening of the school is a matter of minutes for Turkey, with no legal barriers remaining. Erdogan explained Halki was not in the package because, “Why should we always give? We ask for reciprocity.”

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