Decision paves the way for allocation of worship places to minority foundations

The decision taken by the Foundations Council under DG Foundations paves the way for the allocation of worship places such as synagogues and churches under the administration of the Directorate General of Foundations to minority foundations against no cost.

Following the decision, initially Sacre Coeur Church in Istanbul's Taksim Gümüşsuyu was allocated to the Syriac Catholic Church for 49 years against no cost. Similarly, Mar Yuhanna Church was allocated against no cost to Arsuz Rum Orthodox Church Foundation in Hatay.

Foundations Council which is the highest decision-making body of the Directorate General of Foundations took a decision in recent months, which closely concerns the minority foundations.

According to the news report of Anadolu Agency the following phrase has been added to de Regulation on Foundations based on the amendment; " Usage fee may not be charged for immovable properties used for a charity purposes as well as the immovable properties use as the basis of worship, allocated to public institutions and bodies and use in accordance with the purpose defined in their charters."

According to the news report, the decision paves the way for the allocation of synagogues, churches, monasteries under the administration of the Directorate General of Foundations to the relevant foundation against no cost. Allocation against no cost has so far been applied for foundation mosques.

DG Foundations Adnan Ertem noted that this decision concerning the minority foundations, was significant in terms of Turkey's perception in Europe. Reminding that the Syriac Catholic Church Foundation in İstanbul has filed a court case at the European Court of Human Rights related to the aforesaid church, Ertem noted that ECtHR had rendered an interim decision on conciliation over the subject matter. Ertem also noted that this new implementation has finalised this court case is what.

Ertem said; "We hope that this decision that allows allocation of immovable properties under the administration of the Directorate General such as churches, synagogues, to minorities against no cost, would also yield positive results in terms of the external perceptions over the court case ongoing at the ECtHR. All positive amendments introduced with respect to minorities yield also positive results in terms of Turkey's perception across Europe."

Head of İstanbul Syriac Catholic Church Foundation Zeki Basatemir said; "I have dedicated a third of my life for solving the issues concerning the allocation of this church. We are extremely pleased with this decision. I have sent a thank you letter to Director General of Foundations Mr Adnan Ertem. We had taken over the church 21 years ago from the Treasury and were upset when we lost it in 2003… Now we are really happy. God bless our state."

Sacre Coeur Church used by the Syriac Catholic community in Istanbul had been constructed by Jesuit priests in 1910.

After Jesuits left Turkey, the Church and its land had been transferred to the Treasury. Syriac Catholics, who were forced to abandon their domiciles and migrated to Istanbul starting from the 70ies, had renovated and started to use this church which was in ruins at that time as they had no other church in Istanbul.

The Church which was allocated to the Istanbul Syriac Catholic Church Foundation for a term of 99 years in 1997 against no cost, had later on faced a court case between DG Foundations and the Treasury and problems had arisen regarding its allocation against no cost. The process had continued till the ECtHR stage.


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