The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday that Turkey violated the rights of the Greek Orthodox Taksiarhis Church Foundation by refusing to allow it to register its property reported Balkan Insight.
According to ECHR, Turkey’s refusal to the Greek Orthodox Church to declare its property constitutes discrimination and ordered the country to pay 5,000 euros in costs and expenses.
"The applicant association, the Arnavutkoy Greek Orthodox Taksiarhis Church Foundation
(Arnavutköy Taksiarhis Rum Kilisesi Vakfı), is one of the foundations under Turkish law of the Greek
Orthodox Community of Istanbul.
"The case concerns judicial proceedings leading to a refusal to register property which, according to
the applicant foundation, had been in its continuous possession for a long period and had been
mentioned in a declaration of 1936, its founding document.
"Relying on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European Convention the
applicant foundation alleges that the national authorities breached its right to the peaceful
enjoyment of its possessions. Under Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention,
taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property), it argues that the dismissal
of its request to obtain a deed proving its ownership of property which appeared in its 1936
declaration constitutes discrimination in relation to other foundations." read judgement issued from the ECHR.
The Taksiarhis Greek Orthodox Church is one of the foundations under Turkish law of the Greek Orthodox Community of Istanbul. The church was built in 1899 in the Arnavutkoy district of the city.
Greeks, or Rum as they are known in Turkey, were once a vast community in Istanbul, which was then called Constantinople. They numbered nearly 1.8 million in 1910 but the population was devastated following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I.
Subsequent Turko-Greek wars, a population exchange agreed upon between Turkey and Greece in 1923, and continuous political pressure on the community have reduced their numbers to several thousand.
Their foundations, churches, and their properties have also become a major political topic in Turkey as governments seized, closed or denied them registration.
According to Bia.net, a Turkish independent online news website, there are currently 167 foundations belonging to minorities in Turkey, including seven Rum, 54 Armenian, 19 Jewish, 10 Syriac/Assyrian, three Chaldean, two Bulgarian, one Georgian and one Maronite foundation.