Source: Hurriyet Daily News
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary becomes the stage for Greek and Turkish musicians amid growing expectations over the school’s opening as part of the much-awaited democratization package
Vercihan Ziflioğlu ([email protected])
The concert, titled “A Cultural Trip from Greece to Turkey,” in which musicians from Turkey and Greeceperformed for peace and friendship, marked a first for the Halki Seminary, as the school has been closed since 1971.
Professor Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, Halki Seminary’s archpriest and Metropolitan of Bursa, told the Hürriyet Daily News that he hoped this celebration would prove to be a pre-celebration for the opening of the school.
“I am sure that the reopening of this school will once again show that Turkey has nothing to fear from education, that culture cannot be a threat, and that prayer is not a hostile act directed against anyone,” said Lambriniadis.
The Halki Seminary, which was opened in 1844, served as a school of Greek-Orthodox theology until a 1971 Constitutional Court ruling forced all private institutions of higher education to become a part of state universities. Halki’s board of trustees refused to become part of Istanbul University, an offer made by the Turkish state in accordance with the ruling. Consequently, the seminary section of Halki School was closed down. The high school section is still open, but no longer has students.
Government move awaited
Lambriniadis said they trusted the Turkish government to open the seminary, with the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) much-anticipated democratization package – which is expected to include measures related to the status of the Halki Seminary – set to be announced in the coming days.
“We trust that our government is not against this way of thinking. Our theological school has always been a place for the promotion of culture and education in a multicultural and cosmopolitan city like Istanbul, away from extremisms and hatred of any kind,” said Lambriniadis.
The democratization package is to be announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 30. The judicial package is expected to include topics related to the Kurdish peace process and the rights of Alevis, among other topics. Erdoğan has said the package will constitute a “new phase” in the 11-year process of his party’s rule, stressing that as a party that has suffered from bans, the AKP stands against discrimination and restrictions on freedom of expression.
Lambriniadis also said he was very happy that a concert bringing the Turkish and Greeknations together had been organized at the Halki Seminary.
Along with Lambriniadis, Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, Bulgarian Patriarch Neofitos, the Greek consul general in Istanbul, and the mayor of the Prince Islands Mustafa Farsakoğlu attended the concert.
While no security problems were encountered during the concert, a small group verbally attacked people who were waiting in the queue for a phaeton to reach the Halki Seminary.[subscribe2]