24 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 06/16/2010 12:46
TURKEY – EUROPEAN UNION
Strasbourg court rules Turkey must return orphanage to Ecumenical Patriarchate
by NAT da Polis
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.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – In a unanimous decision, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Turkey must return the former Greek Orphanage on Büyükada Island, the largest of the Princes’ Islands, back to Fener Greek Patriarchate. This concludes the long legal case between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Turkish authorities. The case had begun in 1997 when Turkey tried to use various legal means to take the building away from the Patriarchate in order to upgrade the area without compensation.

The orphanage is a large, wooden building—an architectural jewel built in 1898 by a French company and bought in 1903 by Eleni Zarifi, the member of a rich Istanbul Greek family who donated it to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Christian orphans. The orphanage was closed down in 1964 and the building left to decay.

The sentence is very important because for the first time the European Court requires the Turkish state to return the property without compromise (restitutio in integrum); for example, paying compensation in order to keep the building.

Another important feature of the ruling is the explicit recognition of the legal status of the Patriarchate. The Turkish state has never recognised the Ecumenical Patriarchate despite improved relations between Ankara and the Fener (the Istanbul neighbourhood where the Patriarchate is located), especially since Prime Minister Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.

The prime minister accompanied by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visited the former orphanage for the first time on 15 August 2009, and since then has said on several occasions that he would not oppose the sentence of the European Court in Strasbourg.

Since the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not legally recognised by the Turkish state, it cannot own property in Turkey. It is only allowed to meet the religious needs of the Orthodox community of Istanbul. Even its headquarters in the Fener belong to the Saint George Foundation (Vakif). The same is true for other religious minorities in Turkey.

Political and diplomatic circles in Strasbourg point out that the ruling now opens new perspectives for religious minorities recognised by Turkey, most notably Jews and Armenians, based on the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). The same is true for the Catholic minority, whose members live in an unclear legal status and survive by maintaining a few buildings amid difficulties and uncertainties.

Given its importance, Turkish media have given the sentence an extensive coverage. Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış told reporters that the government was not surprised by the ruling but could not say whether recognition would be given or not.

Some time ago, Prime Minister Erdogan asked Bartholomew what the Patriarchate would do with the orphanage if it were handed back. The ecumenical patriarch answered that the intention was to turn one section into an international centre for the environment, and the other into a centre for inter-faith dialogue.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
11/30/2010 TURKEY
The Turkish government now recognises us officially, says Bartholomew I
by NAT da Polis
08/20/2009 TURKEY
Erdoğan open on minorities, makes first visit to disputed Patriarchate buildings
by NAT da Polis
05/13/2009 TURKEY
Bartholomew I appeals to the European Court in Strasbourg against Ankara
by NAT da Polis
08/01/2007 TURKEY
Plot against the ecumenical Patriarch foiled
12/01/2005 TURKEY
Closer dialogue between Vatican and Ecumenical Patriarchate

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.