07 October, 2005
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday noted that reopening the Halki School of Theology was "Turkey's obligation, like the others expressed in the road map [for EU-Turkey accession talks]."
The spokesman was commenting on press reports coming out of Greece's eastern neighbor, in which Turkish ministers forecast a solution for the reopening of the school, whose operation has been blocked by Turkey for more than three decades.
According to the ANA correspondent in Istanbul, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stated on Thursday that the Turkish government had been working on a formula for reopening the school for some time and that the issue will be resolved "in accordance with the Constitution and the laws".
Turkish Education Minister Hussein Celik had earlier stated that "it was not right" that the Halki School remain closed, while noting that there was a direct reference to the issue of reopening the school in the chapter of the accession negotiations referring to the religious freedoms and minority rights.
"Even if the EU did not exist, I would think that it is not right for the School to remain closed," Celik told reporters, adding "the government knows what it must do".
The reopening of the Halki theological school, which was closed down by the Turkish government in 1971, is a standing demand of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Fanar, Istanbul.
Source: Athens News Agency