During the recent meeting between Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York (the first between the two leaders), the Greek prime minister raised the issue of the reopening of the Greek Orthodox theological school on the island of Halki, off Istanbul. The issue is pertinent to religious freedom and bears clear and significant international dimensions.
It’s hard to see why successive Turkish leaders have over the past 50 years refused to reopen a theological school. It’s hard to see why the students and future religious leaders of Orthodox Christianity would pose a threat to Ankara. In fact, the opposite appears more plausible. As Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios stressed a few months ago, in the presence of Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, “It is inexplicable that a school that was founded and opened in 1844, during the Ottoman period, was closed down during the Republican period, and has been kept closed for half a century.”