Istanbul's Halki Seminary reopening on the table, says Turkish Minister
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has signaled that the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary on Istanbul's Heybeliada Island might be reopened as part of a democratization package. Ergin said the minority issue and the Halki Seminary were on the table as part of the discussions over the democratization package, during an interview with the private Haberturk channel. "It is among the discussed debates. We will see its result together. But it is on the table now. This is a political decision. If such a decision is taken then of course the Halki Seminary could be opened," said Ergin. In March, Defense Minister Ismet Yılmaz told Parliament that a broad study was being held into reopening the Halki Seminary. "We are carrying out a broad study about the Heybeliada Halki Seminary in a positive approach, by considering all the aspects of the issue along with the related institutions," Yilmaz said. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on March 5 the Heybeliada Halki Seminary should be reopened to educate clerics for the Orthodox community, saying "minorities have the same rights as us," while speaking at a conference in Berlin. "We accept that there is a necessity for clerics in the Heybeliada Halki Seminary for the Greek Orthodox Patriarch or the Orthodox community, and a school is needed for these [clerics] to be educated. We know there are [those needs]," said Arinc at the conference. "Therefore, this school certainly has to be opened and clerics should be educated here again." Ergin said the democracy package also included subjects such as the peace process on the Kurdish issue, but denied that a retrial of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan was possible. The issue of retrials in the fourth judicial package was for a total of 221 file and Ocalan's file is not one of them. The justice minister also said that Ocalan was examined by doctors 14 days ago and that he had no health problems then. These remarks come after the co-chair of the Kurdish-umbrella organization the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Ahmet Turk, and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Aysel Tugluk demanded that Ergin release Ocalan's medical report on July 29. Ergin also said that the Constitution should change for the education in mother tongue. The minister also said that a new regulation on sexual abuse cases had been prepared and would soon be submitted to the Parliament after being discussed in the Cabinet. He said the report on the psychology of a sexual abuse victim would no longer be necessary with the new regulation.