Concerning the Halki Seminary, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said "If we make an arrangement in Turkey, this will not be related to the process of EU, the demands of America or Arab world. This is our domestic concern."
Responding the questions of the journalists at Turkish Arab Economic Forum, Bagis stated that today they were around 2500 Greek Orthodox citizens in Turkey and said:
"These citizens share the same land and the same water with us for centuries. They do their military service for the same country. They pay tax for the same treasury. They make contribution to the development of the same country. If our own citizens have problems with regard to their religious and educational needs, we examine it and seek to eliminate and solve it."
Bagis indicated that pursuant to the Treaty of Lausanne minorities had certain rights for the gratification of their religious and educational needs and he noted that this had to be considered as well.
Bagis said: "This is an issue that requires to be consulted through examination. As Turkey, we may examine, discuss and then decide upon this, but it is my belief that it would be unfair for our citizens to realize it just because America and Europe wanted it to be realized. If we are to progress on this issue, I believe that, the Greek Government should also tackle the requirements of Turkish citizens living in Western Thrace regarding their training and religious obligations. However, there is no logic in perceiving it as an EU process."
Indicating that to identify the Halki Seminary issue with Cyprus issue is like confusing apples with oranges, Bagis reminded Turkey's view on Cyprus issue and said "If the isolation over TRNC is removed and Turkish Cypriots start to carry on commerce directly with world countries, then we can consider the issue of accepting Greek Cypriot planes and ships to our country as happened in the past until 1980s. However, this would not mean recognition.
Bagis stated that many countries in the world did not recognize Taiwan but they traded with it. Bagis added: "This should also be valid for the TRNC. This is my personal opinion. We determine our official policies after discussing these with the related authorities in our Council of Ministers."
Bagis said: "If there is a concern relating the Halki seminary, this is a human rights issue. This is related with the needs of our own citizens. We will determine their needs after discussing with them; and then we can look for solutions within the framework of our legal system. After that we can make a progress."
Upon a question whether a Constitutional amendment is required or not on the issue, Bagis said "My personal opinion is that there is no need for Constitutional amendment on this issue. As an international treaty, the Treaty of Lausanne is more important than our Constitution. It is a treaty which we appreciate, respect and put forward in many international conflicts since the foundation of our Republic. I think no problems would arise in terms of our Constitution on the issue of opening a high school under the framework of Ministry of National Education' supervision and auditing. After evaluating this issue with our Constitutional jurists, we as Turkey will decide on the issue."