» 11/09/2010, 00.00
Landmark ruling in Turkey Buyukada orphanage returned to the Orthodox Patriarchate
NAT da Polis
After the ruling of the European Court, Turkey decides to return, the building located on the Island of the Princes to the Fanar. The decision paves the way for the requests relating to other religious buildings, monasteries, for the most part, seized by the state.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – A landmark ruling by a court of law in Turkey, the first of its kind: Buyukada district court of following the ruling of the Court of human rights in Strasbourg, has handed over the Buyukada orphanage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. The court has informed the "Fanar" that orders have been given for the final return of the building, located on the 'Island of the Princes’ to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. It also ordered that the land be registered to the “Rum Patrikanesi” (The Patriarchate of the Rum, as Orthodox Christians are called in Turkey), recognizing its de facto legal status. It should also be noted that with this ruling, the Buyukada court overturns a previous decision of 27 June 2005, with which, and at the request of the Directorate of Religious Foundations, all property rights to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople over the orphanage were removed.
Thus, this first and truly historic ruling by a Turkish court brings to an end a lengthy controversy that first began in 1999 between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Directorate of Religious Foundations, an organization through which the Republic of Turkey exercised careful control over minorities, often via questionable legal instruments. In 1999 the Directorate General of Religious Foundations requested the cancellation of the orphanage deeds of ownership, first made out to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1902 and reconfirmed in 1929. Simultaneously, the Directorate General of Religious Foundations ordered the transcript of ownership to the orthodox religious foundation in charge of the orphanage which was closed in 1964 for alleged structural instability.
The "Fanar", having unsuccessfully exhausted all legal means at its disposal with the Turkish authorities, appealed to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which on 15 June this year, accepted its case. However, one last step remains: that is, removing the status of "mazbut" from the orphanage, to arrange for its release from seizure and occupation by the General Directorate of Foundations and hand over management to administrators appointed by the Christian Orthodox community in Istanbul. The ruling opens the way for possible release from seizure of 23 monasteries in Turkey, still owned by the State through the Directorate-General of the Foundation. The orphanage, said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, will be used as a world center for interreligious studies and an observatory for the protection of the environment.
Turkish government hands over Buyukada orphanage to Orthodox
The hand over of the deeds of ownership of the building, located on Princes’ Islands, to the Patriarch, could happen today. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in June 2010 that the orphanage was to be returned. Tomorrow the Patriarchate celebrates the feast of St. Andrew, attended by a Vatican delegation.
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Coming on the eve of the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the return of the Buyukada orphanage is extremely significant for Orthodox Christians and marks an important moment for Turkish Christians. A Vatican delegation led by Card Kurt Koch attends the celebrations.
Government set to handover Buyukada orphanage to Patriarchate of Constantinople
For the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey, the state is set to return property seized after the Act of 1936 to religious foundation. News of the decision of the Directorate of Religious Foundations leaked by Haberturk, following a ruling by the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
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The mandatory ruling opens new perspectives for the legal recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which Turkish authorities have not done yet. It also gives hope to the Armenian, Jewish and Catholic minorities. The orphanage is expected to become an international centre for the protection of the environment as well as a centre for inter-faith dialogue.
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