Two German Christian Democrats have called for the re-opening of the Theological Seminary of Chalki, Turkey, which was closed 30 years ago. Armin Laschet (European MP, Brussels) and Hermann Groehe (German MP, Berlin) have written to the Turkish government, the European Commission and the German government, explaining that a re-opening would demonstrate Turkey's willingness to protect religious minorities.
The seminary, located on Heybeli Island, belongs to the Greek-Orthodox Church and serves to train the majority of their clergy. Their church law says that the spiritual leader of the 250 million Greek-Orthodox Christians worldwide has to be a Turkish citizen and must be trained in Chalki. If the seminary remains closed, there will one day be no more clergy that fulfill this requirement.
In the opinion of the two Christian Democrats, the re-opening of the school, which had already been planned for 1997, would also facilitate Turkey's approach toward the European Union. The European Charter of Basic Rights, approved in Nice (France) in December 2000, explicitly guarantees religious freedom. Less than 0.2 percent of Turkey's population are Christians.
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