The member of the House of Commons and Assistant Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons sent this letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada


Ottawa, January 28, 2002

The Honourable Bill Graham

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Subject: The Orthodox Theological School of Halki


Dear Minister Graham:

Firstly, I wish to congratulate you again on your new appointment as Canadaís Minister of Foreign Affairs. I believe that you are highly qualified for your new responsibilities and I look forward to working with you closely on matters of mutual concern.

I am writing to you today with regards to the Orthodox Theological School on the island of Halki. To this effect, I have taken the liberty of enclosing a brief history of the School for your information. The authorities of the Republic of Turkey have illegally closed the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Halki, since 1971.

The purpose of my correspondence to you is that I, along with over half a million Canadians of Hellenic origin and countless other Canadians also of Orthodox Christian religion, seek the immediate reopening of the Halki Seminary. The Halki Theological Seminary is the lifeline of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Great Church of Christ. The Patriarchate is an invaluable part of world culture and the Orthodox Christian religion. It is unique to civilization since it is the most ancient office that has continued to function without interruption since the establishment of Constantinople as the centre of Orthodox Christianity.

The Halki Seminary was created as the primary place of learning and education for the Orthodox priesthood of all denominations. Its closure constitutes a breach of Article 40 of the Lausanne Treaty and Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution which both guarantee religious freedom and education. Their provisions are also embodied in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights and therefore the closure of the Theological School of Halki can only viewed as an illegal abuse of human rights and a violation of democracy and international law.

I believe that by calling upon you and all people of good will devoted to the ideas of freedom, democracy and human rights, to support the continuation of Orthodox Christianity in Turkey and the rest of the world by endorsing the reopening of the Halki Seminary, we will ascertain that the future priesthood continue to be educated and thus allow the Ecumenical Patriarchate to continue functioning.

I strongly urge our government and you personally, to raise this issue with your colleagues in the Turkish government and with all appropriate bodies. I would appreciate receiving information as to the actions taken by the Canadian government to remedy this situation.

I thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.


Yours sincerely,

Eleni Bakopanos

Member of Parliament for Ahuntsic

Assistant Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons


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