2007 -- S 0895

Enacted 03/27/07



S E N A T E  R E S O L U T I O N




     Introduced By: Senators Raptakis, Paiva-Weed, McBurney, Gallo, and Metts

     Date Introduced: March 27, 2007




     WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey refuses to recognize the rights and religious

freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the head of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church which

is a minority religion in Turkey; and

     WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey has confiscated most of the properties of the

Ecumenical Patriarchate and has placed a 42 percent retroactive tax on the Balukli Hospital which

is run by the Ecumenical Patriarchate; and

     WHEREAS, The Government of Turkey has limited the candidates available for

selection as the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Turkish nationals and reneged on its agreement to

reopen to the Theological School at Halki, thus impeding training for the clergy; and

     WHEREAS, The Theological School of Halki is the only educational institution for

Orthodox Christianity in Turkey. It was closed in 1971 by Turkish authorities under a law

requiring that higher education in religion and minority training be controlled by the state; and

     WHEREAS, The United States Congress passed a resolution expressing that the

Orthodox Theological School of Halki in the Republic of Turkey must be reopened in order to

promote religious freedom; and

     WHEREAS, Turkey should restore Hagia Sophia, which has been turned into a museum,

to is original purpose as a church; and

     WHEREAS, The European Union, a group of nations with a common goal of promoting

the peace and the well-being of its peoples, began accession negotiations with Turkey on October

3, 2005; and

     WHEREAS, The European Union defined membership criteria for accession to the

European Union at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, obligating candidate countries to

have achieved certain levels of reform, including stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy,

adherence to the rule of law, and respect for the protection of minorities and human rights; and

     WHEREAS, Under the terms of the draft European Union Constitution, current and

prospective member nations should have the goal of eliminating discrimination based on any

grounds, such as sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or

belief, political or any opinion, national minority membership, property, birth, disability, age, or

sexual orientation; and

     WHEREAS, Turkey's current treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is inconsistent

with the membership conditions and goals of the European Union; now, therefore be it

     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

hereby urges Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,

and urges the European Union to deny Turkey membership in the European Union until Turkey

changes its policies regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate; and be it further

     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to

transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation.