US House subcommittee calls on Turkey to reopen Halki

A House of Representatives subcommittee unanimously approved legislation to call on the Turkish government to reopen the Halki seminary.

US House subcommittee calls on Turkey to reopen Halki

World Bulletin / News Desk

A congressional subcommittee Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to call on the Turkish government to reopen the Halki seminary.

“The Justice and Development Party raised the hopes of Orthodox Christians all around the world when they announced that they would reopen the seminary, and a proposed democratization package seemed to be an appropriate channel for this change,” said Bill Keating, ranking member on the subcommittee.

He added, “Many were, however, surprised to see that the reopening of Halki was not included under the provisions of this package when it was announced. Since then, Prime Minister Erdogan’s rhetoric on Halki has taken a turn, and conditions and reciprocity demands are now attached to the reopening of the school. I fear that this type of rhetoric threatens to undo much of the progress that’s been made in Turkey, and further, it may have a negative impact of dividing Turks, and stalling long-awaited progress on the issue of Halki, as well as other issues concerning Turkish minority groups.”

Congressman Gus Bilirakis emphasized the importance of Halki for Orthodox Christians, likening it to what the Vatican is for Catholics.

He added, “While Orthodox Christians, and friends of religious freedom have appreciated, over the past decade, encouraging signs from the government of Turkey related to the impending opening of the seminary, the deal has not been done yet. The deal has not been closed. This resolution simply encourages Turkey to take that last affirmative step.”

For some of those present Tuesday, Tuesday’s approval was a clear call for the Turkish government to reaffirm its commitment to the US and the West.

“There is no better message they could send to us and reaffirming their ties with the West than the seminary in Halki, and making sure that was open and shown as an example of the positive intent of the Turkish government, of the Turkish people,” said hearing Chairman Dana Rohrabacher.

The bill will have to pass the House Committee on Foreign Affairs before it can be put to the House floor for a full vote.

Last Mod: 20 Kasım 2013, 09:20
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