Preparations are feverish in Halki, as the Theological School is preparing for the upcoming arrival of Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday. The visit of the Greek Prime Minister to the Theological School has become a big event and all the inhabitants are discussing this issue. The news is well known as the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has made front page news the fact that a Greek Prime Minister will be visiting the Theological School of Halki for the first time, with the Turkish Parliament Speaker Binali Yildirim saying: “our guest is welcome in Turkey and we will try to we host him in the best way”.
The driver of the carriage who brought us to the Hill of Hope where the School is located expressed his joy and said “we wish we are the ones who guide Tsipras to the island with our carriage”.
In the Theological School, which has been closed since 1971 by the Turkish State, there is enthusiasm as they believe that Alexis Tsipras’ decision to visit the School and meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch there, draws attention to the issue of the request for the reopening of the school.
The Ecumenical Patriarch said that with Alexis Tsipras “we will discuss our common problems, attend the celebrations for the Holy Photios, we will have the festive meeting and we hope that in the relations of Greece and Turkey this visit of the Greek Prime Minister will contribute catalytically and decisively, so that these relations will be improved for the good of both sides. That the visit of the Prime Minister of Greece to the Ecumenical Patriarch takes place this time not in Fanari but in Halki has a special symbolism, because we all know how much we want and how much we need the reopening of our Theological School, almost half a century since its operation was unjustly suspended”.
The employees of the School are working to have everything ready forg the visit. The latest touches on hagiographies on all areas are being prepared.
Alexis Tsipras is expected to visit the School on Wednesday morning and meet with Patriarch Bartholomew in the congress hall recently inaugurated by the Ecumenical Patriarch, and where sometimes in the year the Synod of the Ecumenical Throne takes place there.
Later, members of the Prime Minister’s escort, journalists, and Metropolitans will sit at a lunch in honor of Alexis Tsipras. The Greek Prime Minister, prior to his departure from Istanbul, will have a meeting with the representatives of the Greek community of the City.
The Theological School operated from 1844 until 1971 and 12 Ecumenical Patriarchs were graduates.
The program of the Greek Prime Minister in Turkey begins with a visit to Ankara on Tuesday afternoon. In the afternoon he will meet with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two leaders are expected to discuss key issues that concern Greek-Turkish relations. Namely, the Aegean, developments in the Cyprus issue and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, the rights of minorities in Thrace, Istanbul, Imbros and Tenedos. The Turkish president is expected to raise the issue of the none extradition of the 8 Turkish officers accused of participating in the coup attempt against Erdogan, who escaped to Greece were given asylum.
Exclusive Statement of the Metropolitan of Prousa Elpidophoros, Lecturer of the Theological School of Chalki
“And at the Patriarchate and the Theological School of Halki, we are all happy that we will be welcoming a Greek Prime Minister for the first time in our history. The last visit of a Prime Minister was in 1933 by Eleftherios Venizelos, who was former Prime Minister at the time and had visited Halki along with his wife. The attention given by the Prime Minister of Greece to the Theological School we believe is indicative of the interest that exists for its reopening and we unite our prayers with the superhuman and long-term efforts our Patriarch has made to reopen this School. And we believe that our prayers along with our actions will bring results. We are pleased that the Greek Prime Minister is with us as well”./IBNA