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'Greek Orthodox seminary should be reopened'

Deputy PM Arinc said 'minorities' in Turkey have the same rights with the rest of the population
TIMETURK / News Center

Turkey's Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc said Heybeliada seminary should be reopened for clerics to be trained for Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Orthodox community.

Speaking at a conference in Germany on living together in peace, Arinc said the seminary that was closed in 1971 should be reopened in order to meet the need for clerics for Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Orthodox community.

He said new arrangements were made with the new Law on Foundations and the orphanage belonging Patriarchate in Buyukada was returned to Patriarchate as well as other foundations and/or real estates belonging to minorities in Turkey and they were all glad about that.

Arinc said the Heybeliada seminary could not be reopened due to political reasons; first was the unfriendly attitude of Greek administration to Muslim Turkish minorities in Western Thrace. He said Greek administration should take steps to relieve Turkey and Turkish minorities in Western Thrace but that should not mean that Turkey would not do anything before Greek administration takes steps. He said Greek Orthodox community was in need of clerics and it was a human right.

Arinc said they and the "minorities" in Turkey have the same rights adding that he was using the term "minority" as a legal term.

Dialogue, crucial for peace and brotherhood

Arinc delivered a speech at "Muslims, Jews and Christians: Peace is possible!" conference at German Federal Parliamentary conference hall in Berlin on Tuesday.

Arinc gave the example of "Alliance of Civilizations" initiative which began in 2005 with the attempts of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Spain's then prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and turned into a UN initiative, and said, "This initiative was launched with the aim of avoiding suspicion, fear and polarization and has become the most significant initiative in terms of dialogue between cultures and religions."

Underlining the need of 7 billion people in the world for peace and brotherhood, Arinc said, "To establish peace and brotherhood, we must implement dialogue, the crucial need for societies. Dialogue is not the dominance of a religion or a culture to another. It is rather resonance and adoption."

"It is beyond the pale that a Jew is exposed to a genocide or hostility just because he is Jewish. No religion or belief approves it. As Jews are marginalized by anti-semitism, in the same way Muslims are advertised by Islamaphobia," said Deputy Prime Minister Arinc.

Turkey's criticisms directed at Israeli government not Jewish faith

Turkey's deputy prime minister said Tuesday criticisms made by Turkish officials about Israel were directed at the Jewish state's government, not at the Jewish faith or Jews who practice their religion.

"Just as the Israeli government criticized the Turkish government freely in the past, we might have criticized the Israeli government and its officials. And I believe we did it in a very strong manner. But we would not have any thoughts that would confront your faith or challenge the reasons for your existence. We would not utter a word that would hurt you," Bulent Arinc told a conference in Berlin.

Arinc's remarks were in response to statements made by former German politician and TV host Michael Friedmann during the conference on "Muslims, Jews and Christians: Peace is possible!"

Turkey's ties with Israel fell to a historic low after Israeli commandos raided in May 2010 a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine Turkish citizens.

Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador in Ankara, saying that relations would not go back to normal unless Israeli government made an official apology, paid redress to the relatives of the victims and removed blockade on Gaza.(AA)