ISTANBUL, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Monday criticized Turkey over shrinking its Christian population by closing the Halki International Seminary, while praising it for its successful endorsement of secularism, the website of local English newspaper Daily News reported.
Speaking at a conference on "Leadership for Sustainable Success," Clinton asked that "You have to think: While your population is growing, why is your Christian Orthodox community shrinking?"
"Do you think it is better for the Christian Orthodox community to fall under the influence of the Russian church?" he added.
Halki seminary has received international attention in recent years. In 1999, Clinton, who was then U.S. President, visited Halki during his visit to Turkey and urged former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to allow the reopening of the school.
In October 1998, both houses of the United States Congress passed resolutions that supported the reopening of Halki.
The European Union has also raised the issue as part of its negotiations over Turkish accession to the EU.
In a speech before the Turkish Parliament on April 6, U.S. President Barack Obama re-affirmed the need for Turkey to allow the reopening of Halki Seminary.
However, the school remains closed, and there is strong opposition to reopening it from Turkey's nationalist parties, particularly the secular Republican People's Party.
In his speech, Clinton also advised Turkey to tackle its own problems to reach a "win-win solution." The key to success in the 21st Century, according to Clinton, is to get away from "zero-sum games," where there are no winners.
Clinton also recalled that he was an ardent supporter of Turkey's accession to the EU.
"As president, I came to the conclusion that Turkey will determine a great deal of what will happen in the 21st Century," he said. "And thus, strong relations with Turkey were forged during my administration."