Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, wants to meet President Tayyip Erdogan to talk about the status of the Patriarchate, and above all would like clarification on the recent episodes that seem to contradict and negate the effectiveness of previous legislations regarding the restitution of goods to minority religious communities, which had been unlawfully expropriated in the past by Turkish authorities. During a recent press conference, convened at the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate overlooking the Golden Horn, Patriarch Bartholomew noted that relations between the Turkish authorities and religious minorities are again experiencing a critical moment, and the issue of the patriarchal theological Institute of Halki has been raised again. The Turkish parliament enacted a law banning private higher education institutions in 1971. According to local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides, Patriarch Bartholomew has announced that a letter will be sent to Erdogan to ask for an appointment, possibly to be held by May, to talk directly with the Turkish President on the issue of the Halki School and more generally on the problems of religious minorities in Turkey.
Recently - stressed Laki Vingas at the press conference, already member of the Minorities foundation Council - "trials were started for the cancellation of property titles, and this situation worries us". What is worrying is primarily the operation implemented by the Turkish State institutions that have recently opened a case against the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to cancel the legal acts with which land was returned at the disposal of the Orthodox patriarchal See, in compliance with the laws providing the restitution of goods to religious minority communities which in the past had been seized by the Turkish authorities (see Fides 21/04/2016). The case started by institutions in Ankara is in particular to re-expropriate the ecumenical Patriarchate of a plot of 98 acres (approximately 40 hectares) in Goksu, and another area in Umit Tepesi, which in the last four years had been assigned to the Institute of Orthodox theology in Halki. The Forestry State Administration filed a case to ask that those real estate are to be returned to the Treasury. The procedural initiative is set up as yet another case of harassment through legal and administrative channels implemented by the Turkish institutions against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 25/04/2016)