Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere speaks
during a press conference in Ankara.
NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
The visiting German interior minister said Friday
that he has urged Turkish officials to protect
religious freedom and address the problems facing
the country’s minorities.
asked Turkish officials to continue their efforts to
resolve minorities’ problems concerning obtaining
property,” Thomas de Maiziere told reporters during
a press conference at the German Embassy in Ankara.
The minister met with Greek Orthodox Patriarch
Bartholomew in Istanbul on Thursday and then held
talks Friday with Turkey’s religious-affairs
director, Ali Bardakoğlu, to discuss the reopening
of the Halki seminary. The seminary is located on an
island off Istanbul and was shut down in 1971.
“The seminary should resume training [religious
clerics] after a 40-year break,” de Maiziere said,
adding that he was hopeful based on his talks with
Turkish officials that the Halki seminary would be
During the press conference, de Maiziere also
addressed the German government’s recent banning of
a charity for allegedly having links to the militant
organization Hamas. Asked if his government had
requested that Turkey launch a probe into the
Turkish branch of the charity, the minister said he
was responsible for following the associations
established in Germany.
banned the İHH [Humanitarian Relief Foundation] in
mid-July, and the reason was its support for Hamas,”
de Maiziere said. “The İHH in Turkey and the one in
Germany share the same name, but they are different
organizations. My ban is on the İHH in Germany.”
Mutual visits between Turkey and Germany are
expected to increase in the coming months. De
Maiziere has invited his Turkish counterpart, Beşir
Atalay, to Berlin to watch the Turkish and German
national football teams compete in a European
Football Championship Group Match. Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Germany on
Oct. 8 and 9, and the German president will visit
Turkey in late October.
addition, German President Christian Wulff and his
Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, are expected to
break ground for the long-awaited Turkish-German
University that will be established in Istanbul’s