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AHI Applauds U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s Call for Halki Seminary to Reopen
December 10, 2015—No. 61 (202) 785-8430

AHI Applauds U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s Call for Halki Seminary to Reopen 

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) applauds the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) call for the Turkish government to reopen the Greek Orthodox on the Turkish government in a statement the Commission released November 24, 2015.

“Without the seminary, the Greek Orthodox community cannot educate in Turkey the next generation of clergy to lead their congregants in worship, observance, and practice,” said USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George. “The failure to reopen the Halkiseminary is a stark example of the Turkish government’s failure to uphold its international obligations to protect and promote the freedom of religion or belief.” 

“We applaud the Commission’s statement which calls on the Turkish government to reopen Halki Seminary,” President Nick Larigakis said.  “We call on Congress and the Obama Administration to continue to exhaust its resources to ensure the seminary reopens. 

Larigakis added, “We also share the Commission’s concerns about human rights in Turkey.  Despite very limited progress, the Turkish government continues to tolerate assaults upon its many minority populations, including the Greek Orthodox Christian minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In addition to the illegal closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology, all outstanding issues remain unresolved, including and the Turkish government’s interference in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s and Greek Orthodox community’s internal governance, among others. These are all actions that violate the founding principles and laws of the United States.”  

Under the International Religious Freedom Act, the president of the United States is obligated to oppose violations of religious freedom in any country whose government “engages in or tolerates violations of religious freedom and promote the right to religious freedom in that country.”  The Act further obligates the president to take one or more of 15 enumerated actions with respect to any such country. AHI has repeatedly called for enforcement of the Act in addition to calling on the U.S. government to urge Turkey to:

  • recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its nonpolitical religious mission;
  • ensure the continued maintenance of the institution’s physical security needs, as provided for under Turkish and international law, including the Treaty of Lausanne, the 1968 Protocol, the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the Charter of Paris;
  • provide for the proper protection and safety of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Patriarchate personnel;
  • promptly return the numerous illegally confiscated properties from the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the Turkish government since 1936; and
  • reopen the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Halki Patriarchal School of Theology.”              

The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.



For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.