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US urges Turkey to immediately reopen Halki Seminary

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged Turkey to immediately reopen the Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki, near İstanbul, the Greek Kathimerini newspaper reported on Saturday.

During his initial remarks before the release of the 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom in Washington, Pompeo referred to the long-standing issue between Turkey and the Greek Orthodox Church.

”In Turkey, at President Trump’s urging, they released Pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been wrongfully imprisoned on account of his faith,” Pompeo noted, adding, ‘We urge the immediate reopening of the Halki Seminary near İstanbul.”

The Theological School of Halki (Halki Seminary) was founded in 1844 on the island of Halki in the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara.

It was the main school of theology of the Orthodox Christian Church’s Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople until the Turkish parliament enacted a law banning private institutions of higher learning in 1971. The school was then forced to close.

The seminary 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.

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