"The head of the Eastern Orthodox Church Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said in an interview on a American television show last week that Turkey's leaders, including the prime minister, have been unresponsive to concrete concerns he raised about religious inequality in the country. The interview has been condemned by the Turkish government. This latest row comes as international criticism is growing over Turkey's treatment of its small Christian minority which numbers less than one percent of its population.
One of the world's most important Christian leaders, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, lives in a country where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. As the patriarch of 300 million Orthodox Christians, he lives in Istanbul, Turkey where his church has been headquartered for more than 1,000 years.
By citizenship his nationality is Turkish, but he belongs ethnically to the small remnants of the Greek community in Turkey".
One of the major sticking points in relations between the Greek Orthodox church and the Turkish government has been the situation of the Halki Seminary, a historical site of the Greek Church which was closed in 1971. It was built on the ruins of a monastery that was built in the 9th century. In 1844, a seminary was founded on the site that trained candidates for the priesthood from around the world. It was closed because of a Turkish law that was passed banning private schools within the Turkish republic.