Paris, July 29, 2021
The Theological School of Halki, a seminary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church still remains closed despite criticism and promises by the Turkish government to reopen it. The situation of the seminary has been cited in various reports on the issue, particularly in the annual country reports for Turkey prepared by the European Commission.
“The United States continues to urge the Turkish government to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and allow the reopening of the Halki Seminary. Moreover, we call upon the government of Turkey to allow all religious groups to again train their clergy within the country,” US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Thursday, July 29. This date marks the 50th anniversary of the closure of the school.
A key minority problem in Turkey is the situation of Halki Seminary, which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church and was closed in 1971 after the Turkish Parliament enacted a law banning private institutions of higher learning.
Halki Seminary had operated for 127 years and that its closure deprived the Ecumenical Patriarchate of a training school for Orthodox clergy in Turkey, its home for 1,690 years.