Greek, Turkish PMs talk about Halki & the Mosque in Qatar. Samaras to visit Ankara, Mar 5/2013

Posted by in Turkey-GR

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had an informal meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Doha, Qatar. During the meeting that lasted 45 minutes, the two leaders talked about issues of mutual interest between the two neighboring countries like the Theological School of Halki in Istanbul and the opening of a mosque in Athens as well as about the religious teachers in Thrace, the Aegean Sea, the economic crisis but also the economic developments in Europe and the region.

Samaras and Erdogan took up also the issue of privatizations, with Turkish PM advicing his Greek counterpart how to exit the crisis.

“I got over the crisis with privatizations,” Erdogan said, who became PM when Turkey was deep in the claws of the IMF.

No Mosque, No Halki…

Antonis Samaras raised the issue of Greece’s right in the sea and made a clear reference to the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Aegean.

Minorities issues between Greece and Turkey were high on the agenda, with Erdogan raising the issue of Muslim minorities in Thrace and the construction of a mosque in Athens. As a gesture of ‘good will’ and taking into consideration the economic problems of Greece, Erdogan allegedly proposed that Turkey would finance it.

“During the meeting, Samaras told me that the Greek Parliament passed the law on mosque construction in Athens and I told him, there was no need to build it yourself, we can do that too. It’s enough that Muslims would have a place of worship in Athens. Samaras showed a positive attitude, ” Erdogan reportedly said, according to Turkish news Agency Anadolu.

According to a daily Hurriyet report from October 2012, the project of Greek government to build a mosque in Athens has been shelved indefinitely due to the country’s worsening financial crisis.

The much-disputed reopening of the Theological School of Halki came on the agenda a day before Samaras-Erdogan meeting.

“Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Monday, that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already appointed a new committee to hammer out a plan.

According to the front-page report, the theological school could reopen as part of a Turkish university institution, under the comparative religion department. However, that scenario is said to be unpopular with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate, as it would put the seminary under the control of Turkey’s Higher Education Board.

An alternative formula, Hurriyet reports, is to allow the Halki seminary to function as part of a foreign – possibly Greek* – university. The move would nevertheless require an amendment to Turkey’s constitution.” (via ekathimerini)

The reopening of Halki is supported by the European Union and has also the warm support of the USA. So the possibility that Halki reopens as part of an *American university looks more realistic to me. Furthermore, Halki being a department of a Greek university would push Ankara to raise a new issue: a similar establishment of a Turkish school for muslim religious leaders in Greece. One thing is sure when it comes to Turkey’s reciprocal state policies: no mosque, no Halki…

Together with several ministers PM Antonis Samaras will visit Ankara on March 5th 2013, to attend the meeting of Greek-Turkish High Level Cooperation Council.

PM Samaras is on a two-day visit in Qatar together with a large group of Greek businessmen. Aim Samaras’ visit is to get investors for Greece and facilitate Greek investment in Qatar.

PS why investors do not invest in their own countries is something I find it hard to understand…