ASIA/TURKEY - New problems for Foundations linked to religious minorities

Friday, 24 May 2019 middle east   religious minorities   oriental churches   legality  


Ankara (Agenzia Fides) - In Turkey the situation of uncertainty which Foundations linked to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities continues. And those in charge of these bodies are unable to find institutional interlocutors willing to seek solutions to unresolved issues together.
The approximately 170 Foundations linked to ethnic and religious minorities present in Turkey - including those animated by Jews and Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Syrian, Chaldean, Bulgarian and Georgian - operate according to the provisions and regulations defined by the General Directorate of Foundations. The stalemate has continued for at least six years: in 2013 a new regulation was drafted, which in fact never came into force, preventing the renewal of management positions of the individual institutions. Last March, the Foundations Directorate began to make contact with the various communities to begin the process of applying the regulatory text, which has remained on paper so far. But precisely at this juncture - as reported by Agos, the Armenian-Turkish bilingual newspaper based in Istanbul - highlighted that the new regulation does not provide for the free election of the directors of the individual Foundations, but their "appointment" by the Foundations Directorate. Under the new rules, the same Directorate had asked the Greek Orthodox community in March to limit itself to suggesting possible candidates for the renewal of the administrative offices of each single Foundation linked to it. The legal representatives of the Greek Orthodox community - Agos reports - have responded by referring to Article 6 of the law on foundations, which states that "the founders' administrators are elected from among their members, and the election procedures are established through internal regulations of each Foundation".
There are 67 Foundations throughout Turkey that are part of the local Greek Orthodox Christian community. Those linked to the Armenian community are 50, and those linked to the Jewish community are 7. On May 9th, the European Court of Human Rights rejected the appeal presented by the Foundation of the Syrian Orthodox monastery of Mor Gabriel for "lack of documentation" (in the photo), which asked to regain possession of 18 real estate belonging originally to the Monastery, expropriated in 2008 and still under the control of the Turkish Ministry of Treasury, despite the promises of restitution expressed in the past by the then Turkish premier - today President - Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 24/5/2019)