ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
The classrooms of the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeliada Island are being renovated with the motivation that the school will reopen soon, archpriest and Metropolitan of Bursa Elpidophoros Lambriniadis says
A recent meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barack Obama in Seoul has raised hopes that the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeliada Island may be reopened after 41years.
“We have a feeling that Turkey will take steps toward [reopening] the seminary in the near [future]. We have begun preparing for this,” the Hagia Triada Monastery’s archpriest and Metropolitan of Bursa Elpidophoros Lambriniadis told the Hürriyet Daily News.
All the classrooms in the historical seminary are now being renovated one by one, and academics from Thessaloniki University are participating in the building’s renovation, Lambriniadis said.
“Prime Minister Erdoğan has demonstrated his determination on this matter through his statements. He has not said a decision has been made to reopen [the seminary, however]. I would especially like to emphasize that even when Atatürk founded the Turkish Republic, he did not close this seminary down,” Lambriniadis said, adding that the public perceived the wording used in the Seoul meeting differently.
In the event that it is reopened, the monastery will offer courses in both English and Greek, unlike in the past when Greek was the sole language of instruction. “Our primary goal is to train clerics for our own community. We are preparing to admit students from many nations,” Lambriniadis said. If the school reopens, it will also admit members of other minority communities in Turkey, according Lambriniadis.
“The reopening of the seminary is more important for Turkey than it is for us. We have put up with [its being closed] for 41 years and can still go on. The state withheld from its citizens their right to education for forty years. If the seminary does not open, this will also reveal Turkey’s attitude regarding human rights,” Lambriniadis said.
The Halki Seminary has been hit hard by the political turmoil between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. In 1971, Turkey decided to bring all private institutions of higher education under state control. The Fener Greek Patriarchate opposed the decision, in consequence of which the seminary was shut down.